Pochettino happy to use Son as Spurs striker

Date published: Friday 18th September 2015 7:31

Mauricio Pochettino: Likely to be out until March

Mauricio Pochettino: Likely to be out until March

Mauricio Pochettino was delighted by two-goal Son Heung-min’s performance as a striker in Tottenham’s Europa League victory over Qarabag.

Spurs and Pochettino were criticised for failing to add a centre-forward to their ranks before the transfer deadline, but Son led the line on Thursday evening and scored twice.

The Azerbaijan Premier League champions took a surprise lead at White Hart Lane when debutant Kieran Trippier felled Ansi Agolli in the box and Richard Almeida converted the resulting penalty.

But Son then struck twice in three first-half minutes to turn the game around, with Erik Lamela adding another late on to seal a 3-1 victory.

Pochettino was delighted with the South Korean’s impact.

“He scored twice and played one hour,” he said.

“His performance you can see I am very pleased with him, very happy. His adaptation to the club has been good from the beginning.

“I think I explained before the Sunderland game that Son can play like a striker. He can also play wider. He has the quality to play in different positions on the pitch.

“I think it wasn’t an easy game. We conceded an early goal. But I am happy because the team showed character and in different periods we played well. We had a lot of players playing for the first time – and it is different to training – and for that the victory is very good for us.”

Alli praise

Although Son had scored the all-important goals, Dele Alli was arguably the best player on the pitch as the 19-year-old made his European bow.

The former MK Dons midfielder has taken to life in the top-flight with ease and Pochettino believes he is someone who plays well beyond his years.

“I think Alli in pre-season started to show that he can play like an experienced player,” he said.

“He showed personality and quality. He is a player who can play in the first team. But you have to be careful with an 18-year-old – it is important to care for him to keep the level for the season.”

With Monaco and Anderlecht making up the rest of Group J, Pochettino is already aiming at going further than last season in this competition – when he saw his side beaten at the round of 32 stage by Fiorentina.

“It is not easy to win the Europa league,” he added.

“Whether it is more realistic or not is the big question, like last season. As a big club we have to try to arrive in the final and win the Europa League.

“Qarabag was no surprise. We saw a lot of their games. I am big fan of theirs now – I like their philosophy and the way they play. They are a very good team. They can fight to go to the next round.”

Qarabag confidence

Qarabag coach Gurban Gurbanov was unhappy at his side’s defending after they left Son unmarked to score the equaliser from five yards out – but he leaves England with the confidence his team can compete.

“We didn’t deserve to lose,” he said.

“We know that they are a good team, our players made some mistakes but I don’t want to speak about the first goal because it was unacceptable but I hope in the next games we can gain the results we are looking for.”

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