Andre Villas-Boas admitted the players were ‘extremely disappointed’ after going out of the Europa League on penalties in Basel but was quick to praise the squad for their performances throughout the competition.
After the first leg of the quarter-final finished 2-2 at the Lane last week, we were in for another rollercoaster ride at St Jakob Park, home of the Swiss champions.
Clint Dempsey opened the scoring after 23 minutes to take us ahead on aggregate but that advantage was soon wiped out by Mohamed Salah.
We continued to impress for the rest of the first half - Basel’s Yann Sommer was the busier of the goalkeepers, making one fine save in particular from Mousa Dembele - but the home side forged ahead in the tie through Aleksander Dragovic four minutes into the second half.
Andre switched to three at the back as we searched for an equaliser and we found it seven minutes from time when Clint controlled Tom Huddlestone’s pass and finished at the near post.
However, celebrations were cut short as the tie took another twist with Jan Vertonghen sent off in the final minute for a foul on Marco Streller, who was through on goal.
The 10 men fought bravely in extra time and Basel struggled to carve us open, going closest when Mohamed Elneny struck the post.
So it went to penalties and Basel struck an early blow by converting their first spot-kick and then seeing Sommer make a fine save to keep out Tom Huddlestone.
We couldn’t haul Basel back from there. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored but when Emmanuel Adebayor missed, it was left to Marcelo Diaz to make it four out of four for Basel to send them through to the semi-finals.
“The players are extremely disappointed,” said Andre. “It’s difficult to go out, and even more difficult to go out on penalties after the fight we showed to level the game.
“Both matches were open and we improved our game tremendously from the first leg.
“We went down to 10 men so late and to play extra time with 10 men was difficult for us.
“The lads did well, we still looked dangerous on the counter-attack but we couldn’t create enough.
“Anything can happen in penalties and this time, it didn’t fall for us. We practised penalties, dedicated time to it, but it’s very difficult to recreate the same situation the players are going through.
“I’m extremely happy with the players' performances, both individually and as a team, and the way the club has set an example in this competition.
“We’ve had very difficult ties and a tough group and some wonderful games with Lazio, Lyon and Inter Milan. The way we have approached the competition is something we should be proud of."