A battling 2-2 draw on the night, earned with 10 men following the first-half dismissal of Dele Alli, wasn’t enough to see us through to the round of 16 as Belgian side KAA Gent claimed a 3-2 victory on aggregate.
Belgian international Mousa, who once again starred in central midfield, was keen to focus on the way we played rather than the result in the post-match reckoning while Son, who came on early in the second period and gave us an attacking spark as we sought to mount a comeback, spoke at length about how the players are learning lessons on the pitch while relishing the hectic schedule of games as we prepare for a return to Premier League action at home to Stoke City on Sunday.
Here’s what the lads had to say…
Is there more anger than disappointment among the players?
“It’s both. It’s very difficult to say something because we don’t have an excuse. We had many chances to score. I don’t know. After the red card we fought, we said ‘we want to win this game’, we tried everything with 10 men and I’m really pleased for my team-mates because they fought a lot. When I came on I wanted to try to change the game, to give the players the chance to score or to create dangerous situations.”
Gent only needed a couple of chances to score twice…
“Sometimes this is football. This sometimes happens like the first goal for them – the corner came from nothing, then we had so many chances to score goals, we didn’t score and it’s the same for their second goal.”
Victor’s goal for 2-1 on the night really seemed to lift us…
“I was thinking about this. I was really positive after Victor scored, everyone was happy, everyone had more energy to score and to try to play but sometimes it’s really difficult. They countered just one time and scored and then it was really, really difficult but even after the second goal for them we tried to score and go again. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. We have to just keep looking forward though – it’s not everything. We have a lot of games, sometimes it happens like this but we have to practice more and we have to learn from this. So many situations happen in the 90 minutes every game so we have to learn about everything and try to play better games.”
Will the players be at 100 per cent for Stoke on Sunday after such a gruelling shift?
“Of course. We are very young players and we are still really hungry. We want to try every game to give 100 per cent and everyone is excited to play again. Everyone is really happy to play every three days, we want to play and everyone wants to try to win every game. We are really good players, everyone really helps each other and we don’t have to worry for the weekend – I think we have a really good chance to make a different atmosphere in the team.”
What’s the feeling like after this result?
“It’s just disappointment. I think we worked hard, that was an important thing and that’s a positive to take forward. Of course, we wanted to do something, we wanted to win this tie so it’s disappointing but we can be proud of ourselves because we worked hard. I think we played well, even the guys from Gent said that as well.”
How disappointed were you with the manner of the goals conceded?
“Any kind of goal is disappointing to concede but we just want to concentrate on the positives. We played very well and if we play like this (against Stoke) we can get the three points. We need to take the positive thing out of this and it’s that we played well.”
Are you confident of beating Stoke after back-to-back 4-0 away wins against them?
“It doesn’t mean anything. They will be motivated as well and it’s a new game of course. We can play any team and with the way we played today, if we play like this we have nothing to fear.”
Was the damage done in the first leg?
“It means nothing now because we lost the game. We showed character in the second leg, showed we can do it even with 10 men so it’s disappointing.”
What are your views on the upcoming clash with Stoke?
“It’s a big game on Sunday. We need to get back to winning ways and hopefully we can fight again how we did in the second half and then we’ll be on the right track. The fans were fantastic tonight and I’m sure they will be again on Sunday. I’m sure they’ll give us that support and we’ll try to deliver the goods.”