Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has rejected the claim his side's 2-1 defeat to Juventus at Wembley on Wednesday was a "nightmare" moment, insisting he is still a "dreamer" after their excellent performance over the two legs.
"Why a nightmare? This is football," he said, per Matt Barlow for the Daily Mail. "I still am a dreamer. We dominated. Overall in two games we were much better. But at this level in three minutes the tie turned for Juventus."
Spurs crashed out of the Champions League 4-3 on aggregate after Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala scored in a three-minute blitz in the second half to overturn the deficit. The defeat meant Tottenham have not qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals since 2011.
But Pochettino remained upbeat, praising his team's efforts in London and Turin, where Spurs came back from two goals down in the first leg to draw 2-2 and put themselves in the driving seat.
"If you don't create, don't play, don't dominate and you lose to a team that is better than you, you can say we need this and that," he said. "But when you show similar qualities and compete on the same level against a team who played in two finals in the last three seasons, you can feel proud and happy.
"You must understand in football you cannot always win. Only one can go to the next stage. Unfortunately for us, we are out."
The Argentinian's attitude following defeat will hearten Tottenham fans, who despite Champions League disappointment are still in the FA Cup—they travel to Swansea City in the sixth round on March 17—and are five points clear of Chelsea in the race for the top four.
"Now we try to see the future in a positive way and improve," Pochettino added. "We must keep going and try to see the future and play again in this competition. In football you can't stop."
Spurs have a crucial match away at Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday, and so fans will be hoping Pochettino's encouraging words can lift spirits in the dressing room. With nine league matches remaining, Spurs must ensure they finish in the top four, handing them the opportunity to make amends in the Champions League next season.