Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino refused to blame Dele Alli for the club’s elimination from the Europa League.
Alli was sent off for a shocking tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in the first half as Tottenham drew 2-2 at home to Gent, who triumphed 3-2 on aggregate in the last-32 tie.
Tottenham hit the front through Christian Eriksen in the 10th minute before a Harry Kane own goal levelled the score on the night and put Gent ahead on aggregate at Wembley.
Alli was then sent off for a scissor-challenge in the 39th minute and while Victor Wanyama restored Tottenham’s lead just past the hour-mark, the England international’s dismissal always left Spurs with a mountain to climb as Gent made the most of their numerical advantage via Jeremy Perbet eight minutes from time.
Pochettino, however, did not point the finger at Tottenham star Alli post-match.
“He is very disappointed and sad,” Pochettino said. “In football, it happens. He knows he made a mistake. Now he tries to move on and improve. In the future we must avoid that situation.
“It’s difficult. It’s not to justify him but it’s a different action, he was fouled before, it was an action that was a clear foul. That’s not to blame the referee but the action came in very soon, that tackle, and I think he deserved to be sent off. He knows. But that kind of action can always happen.
“It’s only one and a half years he is playing for Tottenham in the Premier League, all that he achieved in a very short period is because he is special and a special boy.
“He has unbelievable personality and character. But before that he is a great player.
“In the same way, he is how he is. He is very passionate to play football and sometimes this action happens. Now it’s time to support him, he is very sad and disappointed in the changing room.”
Pochettino added: “It is time for the club and players to improve. It is important for the club to always play European competition, but, for us, it is good to assess the squad and try to improve every season.
“We are disappointed, but it is good for us to analyse to try to change a few things to improve next season and be a better team.”
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