Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has absolved Hugo Lloris of any blame for his jaw-dropping gaffe in the impressive 2-1 win over Southampton.
Ten-man Spurs ground out a vital victory that lifted the clouds over the club, but it was harder than it might have been due to Lloris’ brain freeze in the first half.
Having taken an early lead through Tanguy Ndombele’s fierce strike, the hosts were reduced to 10 men after Serge Aurier picked up two yellow cards in four minutes.
With the momentum changed, the France captain inexplicably handed Southampton a way back into the game when he tried performing a Cruyff turn in his own six-yard box only to be tackled by Danny Ings, whose toe-in rolled over the line.
It was an unbelievable piece of play, but Harry Kane got his team-mate out of the mire with a brilliant team goal just four minutes later and then Lloris himself earned some credit with some fine saves after the break.
Pochettino protected Lloris after game, insisting his goalkeeper plays such a risky game in possession under his instruction.
“You don’t need to blame Hugo, blame me because I demand him to play in that way,” the Argentinian said.
“Of course this situation can happen, but I think the team showed unbelievable spirit after that.
“I am not surprised about his reaction, we are talking about if not the best, the (top) three or five goalkeepers in the world.
“I don’t want anyone to blame him, in this action I want the blame because I demand him to do what he was doing.
“He is so strong mentally and of course showed that he wasn’t affected by this situation.”
The manner of the win feels like a landmark moment after Pochettino had complained about a lack of unity in his squad after a turbulent summer where several players either wanted to leave or thought they were leaving.
A battling victory with 10 men certainly ticks the team spirit box, which left Pochettino smiling.
“I feel proud,” he said. “I was so happy for them, my players, my squad, we have unbelievable players, only we needed to recover the spirit that we showed today.
“I think it showed we have an amazing spirit, we are all together. That is the point to start to work and keep going and be consistent in the future.
“I think the team showed unbelievable spirit after that. A few situations that could be a tough impact in a negative way today we showed an amazing spirit.
“I am happy, so happy because of the players, because of the fans and the staff because they deserve to be in a different situation to the one we’ve been living in in the past few weeks for sure.”
Southampton had a strong spell of pressure after the break where Lloris redeemed himself with good saves from James Ward-Prowse and Maya Yoshida, but they did not do enough against 10 men to deserve a point.
Boss Ralph Hasenhuttl knows the chance to win at one of the top-six clubs may never be so good again.
“We cannot be happy because the chance to take something here will not be that big again,” he said.
“The momentum was on our side. To be that clinical, this is a step of development we have to take.
“We are not a side that is cool enough to finish such a game and this is something we have to work on.
“It is very disappointing, to come back in the game and make the equaliser, we had to come back into the break at 1-1 and then you can adapt your shape.
“But the way we defended the second goal was simply not good enough.”
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