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Jan reflects on 'painful' defeat

Jan Vertonghen couldn’t hide his disappointment after our Europa League exit at Basel on Thursday night.

But the defender is hoping the pain of defeat on penalties in the quarter-final will galvanise the team for the crucial run-in to the Premier League.

Level at 2-2 from the first leg, Clint Dempsey opened the scoring to give us the overall lead midway through the first half but that joy didn’t last long as Mohamed Salah levelled four minutes later.

Aleksander Dragovic put Basel 2-1 up four minutes into the second half but we kept going and levelled in the 82nd minute with Clint’s second of the night.

The night then took a turn for the worse as Jan was sent off for tripping Marco Streller, who was through on goal.

The team dug deep though and held on in extra time to take it down to penalties – Basel went through 4-1 in the shoot-out.

“It’s so painful to go out of the Europa League in this way,” said Jan, who cut a despondent figure afterwards. “I must say the players worked unbelievably hard, especially with 10 men in extra time. We were so strong.

“Of course, I was a little afraid that Basel were going to score in extra time but we took it to penalties and I was confident for the shoot-out but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”

As for his sending off, Jan added: “It was a red card, I think. I had to decide quickly, we lost the ball and I thought I had to do something. I could have run with him but I tried to take the ball, I didn’t want to make the foul but he was just a second quicker.”

Without a game this weekend after Chelsea made it to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, we step back into Premier League action with a huge game against Manchester City at the Lane on Sunday week, April 21.

“You could see there was a team together on the pitch, we really fought for each other for 120 minutes. I hope it makes us stronger,” added Jan.