Vertonghen rues booking that rules him out of Spurs’ trip to Benfica
11:58 14 March 2014
Jan Vertonghen says he didn’t deserve the yellow card which has ruled him out of next week’s second leg against Benfica in Portugal, insisting he wouldn’t have been booked for the challenge in the Premier League.
Tottenham were trailing the Portuguese league leaders 2-1 in the home leg of their last-16 Europa League tie last night when Vertonghen lunged at substitute Nicolas Gaitan in the 81st minute.
Referee Jonas Eriksson brandished a yellow card which means the Belgian will be suspended for the return leg at the Stadium of Light.
And, with Jorge Jesus’ side going to score another goal to triumph 3-1 at the Lane, Tottenham will need to score at least three times in Portugal next Thursday to stand any chance of going on to the quarter-finals.
Vertonghen still believes his team-mates can come back and upset the odds, but he is frustrated that he will not be able to help.
“We lost 3-1 but still I think you always have to believe in some result,” he said. “I wanted to help the team next Thursday, but I can’t do it now. In England it wouldn’t be a yellow card but the guy was screaming so the referee fell for it, and it’s a shame.”
Spurs’ head coach Tim Sherwood stated after the game that Benfica were “better than us”, but Vertonghen insists the Tottenham squad is just as good.
“They don’t have to be better than us,” said the defender. “I think our players are at least as good as their players, that’s my opinion, so it doesn’t have to be that way. Last night they were better, yes.”
Having lost 4-0 against Chelsea and 3-1 against Benfica in the last week, Spurs now have the small matter of the north London derby to prepare for, as they gear up to host arch-rivals Arsenal at White Hart Lane in the Premier League on Sunday.
“Every game gets bigger and bigger, and if we keep on losing then getting a big result in the next game is getting more important,” said Vertonghen.
“It looks like the derby is a really massive game for us at the moment. I think we both need to win on Sunday, and one team will be very disappointed.
“It’s a derby, and there’s no reason not to be motivated. We’ve got a couple of injuries again so we have to see how things are, but I think everybody who will be on the pitch will be motivated to win this game.
“We have to play better, we have to bring our level up, and we all want to do that - we’re all motivated. Some days we look very good, other days we’re not good enough. At the moment we concede too many goals and we don’t score enough goals.”
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