Mauricio Pochettino urged his Tottenham players to keep on believing in their Barclays Premier League title dream after a 1-1 draw with Liverpool that will have been welcomed by leaders Leicester.
Spurs could have trimmed the deficit at the summit to just two points ahead of Leicester‘s clash with Southampton on Sunday, but a share of the spoils on Merseyside means Claudio Ranieri’s side can end the weekend seven points clear with only half a dozen games remaining.
Tottenham were on course to leave with nothing too having fallen behind to Philippe Coutinho‘s 51st-minute opener, before Harry Kane levelled by holding off Dejan Lovren and firing in his club-record 22nd Premier League goal of the campaign.
And while the visitors’ resilience was pleasing for Pochettino, he conceded the result left him slightly deflated in a potentially pivotal weekend in the title chase.
“After the game of course (I’m) disappointed because I think we dropped two points,” Pochettino said.
“But playing Liverpool at Anfield is never easy. We need to feel proud of our players. We showed character. In the first half they have chances, us too. In the second half we started better and conceded a goal. The way we fight and how we finish the game, we need to feel proud of the effort and character we showed.”
Pochettino plans to watch Southampton visit to the midlands on Sunday afternoon and will be keeping his fingers crossed that his old club can do Tottenham a favour.
Asked how he views the title race now, Pochettino said: “We have six games ahead and we need to believe. In football all can happen.
“It was difficult to come here and try and win the three points but we were calm and we believe in our quality.
“We feel a little bit disappointed for dropping two points but we need belief and be ready for the next game which will be a tough game against Manchester United.”
Both goalkeepers were kept busy in an entertaining affair, Hugo Lloris making two fine saves from Adam Lallana while Simon Mignolet produced a one-handed stop from Christian Eriksen.
And Reds boss Jurgen Klopp was not prepared to state the hosts should have won the contest when he reflected on the draw.
“Both (results) were possible. We got the draw and we could have won it in the first half and the second half too,” said the German.
“We had a lot of really good moments. At half-time I told the boys it looks like a stop-and-go game when we were on go and then we stop, I don’t know why.”
Coutinho was dubbed “a genius” by his manager following a performance which would have been a match-winning one had his deflected left-wing cross crept past Lloris.
However, the Brazilian’s afternoon also included a first-half yellow card for diving when he attempted to go beyond last man Toby Alderweireld.
Asked about the incident, Klopp kept his counsel, adding: “I don’t want to answer this question. I am not long enough in this country to know what I can say and what I can’t say. It is a good rule that I have to wait half an hour after the game before I can talk to the referee if I want to.
“He is in a full sprint and he falls. If he doesn’t want to give a free-kick then we have to accept it. But it is two decisions, so it’s not a free-kick (and a booking). But you are experienced enough to write what you think.”