March 12 2014 Latest news:
By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Friday, February 28, 2014
Mousa Dembele says Tottenham displayed their desire to win a trophy in last night’s dramatic victory over Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
Spurs were staring at elimination as Juande Ramos’ Dnipro got an away goal just after half-time at White Hart Lane, taking a 2-0 lead on aggregate.
That meant Spurs had to score three times, and they responded with a quickfire treble inside 13 minutes – aided by the fact that the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Roman Zozulya was shown a straight red for butting Jan Vertonghen.
Dembele said: “We want to win something this year and if we can take that one [the Europa League trophy] we will take it with both hands.
“In the first half it was ok. Then in the first few minutes of the second half we started slowly, but then I think we woke up and we did well.
“It was a very important game for us. I think everything is open this year, so we have high hopes.”
Spurs’ victory has set up a last-16 clash with Portuguese giants Benfica, and this time the Lilywhites will be at home for the first leg, on Thursday March 13.
“Benfica will of course be the best team we have played in the Europa League until now, but I think we have a good team as well,” said Dembele.
“If we play like we played at the end [against Dnipro] then we don’t have to be scared. But of course we’ve got a lot of respect for them and I think they have a lot of respect for us as well.
“I prefer to play away first, but of course it’s no excuse. I think we have to do it at home and then we can do nice things away. It doesn’t matter, I think - we have to win both games.”
Tottenham must now refocus on their Premier League campaign. And, having followed their first-leg showdown against Dnipro with a defeat at Norwich last week, they will be keen to avoid another hangover this Sunday when they host struggling Cardiff.
“I think we’re used to it,” said Dembele. “We have players who are used to playing a lot of games in the year. I think we’ve got enough experience.
“We’re professionals so we know what we have to do to be ready for Sunday – but I think it’s a normal thing.
“The thing is there are a lot of teams who are very good in the Premier League. With a club like Tottenham, they’re up there with the top teams and I think they have to be in the Champions League.
“I play with them every day, it’s my club so of course I think that. We have to work hard to do that, but there are a lot of good teams.”
Last night’s victory will be a relief to head coach Tim Sherwood, who had lost his previous three cup games and was contemplating another elimination.
Instead, he oversaw a memorable European triumph, and Dembele says he would be happy to keep playing under the 45-year-old beyond the end of this season.
“I think we’ve played better as a team [since the managerial change] and we’re all good in training,” said the Belgian. “We’ve adjusted a few things that didn’t work for us, so we’re happy with this.
“Would I like him to stay? That’s not for me to decide, but how it looks now I think the team has confidence, we’re playing much better and of course everybody’s happy.
“After that the club has to decide that, but as a team I think right now we’re very happy.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs