Tottenham earned a nervy 1-0 home draw against Middlesbrough at White Hart Lane on Saturday, an important three points that put them in sole possession of second place in the table, three points ahead of Arsenal and four above Liverpool.
But while manager Mauricio Pochettino was pleased with his team’s performance today, in post-match comments to the BBC he expressed some trepidation that his side wasn’t able to close out the match with another goal or two.
I think we played well. I'm only disappointed a little bit that it was only one-nil. I know we played and it's only one nil and we conceded some chances, and the game was open.
...But I think the performance was good. We want to be more clinical when we create chances, but I'm happy because it's a very important three points for us today.
[Patience] is one of the things we need to improve. Be patient, and try to play and find the gap and find a better position to shoot [from], or to go forward and score.
I think the last few games the teams [we played] opened and played much deeper, and closed down and closed the gap... they are difficult to break down.
I think it's important the control that we showed today and the chances that we created. I think we only conceded one short on target, and that's also important for us. I think we showed that we're much better.
Despite dominating the possession statistics and putting Boro under constant pressure for almost the entire game, Spurs’ finishing let them down and the only goal came via a Harry Kane penalty kick, won after Son Heung-Min was fouled in the box. Despite numerous close calls including a Toby Alderweireld header that went off the post, a Dele shot that went side netting, and another Kane goal that was called offside, Spurs weren’t able to score in the run of play, which set up a nervy final 20 minutes as Boro pushed for an equalizer.
Poch admitted that he was nervous in the waning moments of the match with his side unable to put the match away, but said he was pleased with the result.
Of course [I was nervous], because when you don't kill the game and the game's open, in the last minute anything can happen and you can concede a chance. That's the Premier League. That's the tough thing that happens in England. When you don't close out the game, that can happen. But, it didn't happen and we're happy for the three points.
The win unfortunately doesn’t close the gap on Chelsea, who are still nine points ahead of Spurs at the top of the table, but Pochettino still thinks his side has a puncher’s chance of catching up with the Blues.
I'm not frustrated [about Chelsea]. Since September, Chelsea's only lost one game, against us on January 4. That speaks very well about us that we can beat them, but at the same time we need to believe and try to close the gap.
It's true that it's difficult; we missed an opportunity last Tuesday [against Sunderland], but we need to believe, and there's a lot of games ahead.
Spurs next head to Anfield for a massive match against Liverpool on Saturday, February 11.