Moussa Sissoko claims he never considered quitting Tottenham despite feeling "hurt" by team selections by Mauricio Pochettino that affected his international career.

The midfielder is a key member of Pochettino's Spurs side and has started all four of Tottenham's Premier League matches in 2019-20, but two years ago it was a different story for Sissoko.

While preparing for France's Euro 2020 qualifier with Albania, the 30-year-old reflected on a 2017-18 campaign in which he started just 15 league games for Spurs and missed out on a place in Didier Deschamps' World Cup-winning Les Bleus squad.

"Not being at the 2018 World Cup was of course a disappointment, but not an end in itself," Sissoko told Le Parisien.

"I was aware of having a complicated year with my Tottenham club. The coach's choices hurt me, but it's the law of football. The only thing to do was to redouble efforts. To abandon everything would have been a descent into hell.

"I did not want to stay on a failure. I never thought of leaving Tottenham, it gave me even more the desire to do well.

"I have a winning mind, it has been like that throughout my career. I do not make any noise, I do not come in the media to say that I had to play."

Sissoko bounced back in 2018-19, starting 27 league games and playing a vital role in Spurs' run to the Champions League final, where they lost to Liverpool.

He has found his home in Tottenham's midfield this season as one of two deep-lying players alongside Harry Winks, but he admitted he needed time to adapt to Pochettino's desired style of play.

"Perhaps I have never felt as strong as today," said Sissoko.

"I am comfortable, fulfilled, confident. It is often said that the best form of a player is between 28 and 30 years old. I did not believe it before, but I have certainly had my best season since playing football. I must continue to ride this wave.

"Last season, I played 95 per cent of the games as an axial midfielder. This is where I have the most success, where I express myself best.

"I have assimilated our possession game. It took time, but I like it there a lot."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have both been included in the Champions League squad of the season despite failing to reach the final.

Ronaldo's Juve only reached the last eight before being knocked out by Ajax, while Barca fell to eventual champions Liverpool despite Messi's dazzling display in the first leg of their semi-final meeting.

Messi's 12 goals in the 2018-19 Champions League saw him claim the competition's top scorer honour.

Following their stunning run to the last four, Ajax have five representatives in the squad - Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, David Neres, Hakim Ziyech and Dusan Tadic - while losing finalists Tottenham contribute Jan Vertonghen, Lucas Moura and Moussa Sissoko.

Winners Liverpool have three defenders in the squad - Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk - along with Georginio Wijnaldum, Sadio Mane and goalkeeper Alisson. 

The selection, which was made by UEFA's technical observers, also includes Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and Manchester City duo Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.

Among UEFA's technical observers are Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez, England manager Gareth Southgate and former Manchester United boss David Moyes.

Champions League squad of the season in full:

Alisson (Liverpool), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax), Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk (both Liverpool), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham); Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Frenkie de Jong (Ajax), Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon), David Neres (Ajax), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax); Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Lucas Moura (Tottenham), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Dusan Tadic (Ajax).

Liverpool and Tottenham were lacking the star quality expected of them as the Reds triumphed 2-0 in one of the most disappointing Champions League finals in memory.

Mohamed Salah scored after just two minutes from the penalty spot before 85 minutes of scant little action at either end gave way to a second goal from Liverpool substitute Divock Origi.

It was not the game either set of fans expected, but there were still key moments and interventions that ensured Europe's most coveted trophy headed to Merseyside.

Here's how we rated the players at the Wanda Metropolitano.

TOTTENHAM

Hugo Lloris: 7
Had no chance with the penalty and was otherwise excellent, making a superb save from Andy Robertson shortly before half-time to keep Spurs in touch. Could do little about Origi's goal.

Jan Vertonghen: 6
Did well to keep Salah at bay early in the second half and ventured forward to support a Spurs attack that failed to bare its teeth.

Danny Rose: 6
Fed Son Heung-min and Dele Alli throughout but saw much of his service frittered away, particularly early on.

Kieran Trippier: 6
Like Rose, Trippier poured forward to little effect in the opening stages and his late forays rarely proved effective.

Toby Alderweireld: 6
Was left bloodied at the end of a bruising encounter but could not get across in time to stop Origi from doubling Liverpool's lead three minutes from time.

Christian Eriksen: 6
Squandered a good chance when space opened up for him in first-half stoppage time and saw his curling free-kick saved by Alisson late on.

Harry Winks: 5
Effective around the halfway line, but like his team-mates seemed to freeze when approaching the final third. Replaced by Lucas Moura after 66 minutes.

Son Heung-min: 7
Showed flashes of energy and endeavour but was outmuscled by Virgil van Dijk or outwitted by Alisson when chances came his way.

Dele Alli: 6
Just as he did in the semi-final second leg against Ajax, Alli misplaced passes early on but grew into the game, only to fluff his lines when Tottenham's three best chances fell to him in the second half.

Moussa Sissoko: 5
Suffered a torrid opening to the game when Sadio Mane's cross hit his arm after 26 seconds and lost the key midfield battle against Jordan Henderson that could have turned the game in Spurs' favour.

Harry Kane: 5
Barely involved in the first half, Kane improved in the last 20 minutes as Tottenham pressed for an equaliser, but it was too little, too late from the England captain.

Substitutes

Lucas Moura: 6
Could have been Tottenham's saviour again but side-footed somewhat tamely at Alisson when the ball fell to him 12 yards out.

Eric Dier: 5
Replaced the disappointing Sissoko and fared little better in the heart of Tottenham's midfield.

Fernando Llorente: 5
Sent on late as Mauricio Pochettino sought the kind of heroics he delivered against Ajax but failed to make a mark on the game.

LIVERPOOL

Alisson: 7
Faced no shots in the first half but remained alert enough to make a crucial double-save from Son and Moura – and a superb one from Eriksen – when it mattered most.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7
One of Liverpool's major attacking threats in the first half, firing narrowly wide with an audacious 25-yard drive.

Virgil van Dijk: 7
As calm and assured as you would expect of the PFA Players' Player of the Year and showed his pace and composure to cut Son's mazy dribble short after 75 minutes.

Joel Matip: 7
Viewed as the potential weak link in Liverpool's side by some, Matip did not let his side down and helped to keep Kane eerily quiet before providing the assist for Origi's goal.

Andy Robertson: 6
Linked up with Mane to cause Tottenham problems early on and put in a solid performance defensively.

Jordan Henderson: 7
Harried and pressed Tottenham when he had to, doing just enough to keep Winks and Sissoko from settling into the game.

Georginio Wijnaldum: 5
The game passed him by in the first half and he was little better after the break, making him the obvious choice to come off for James Milner.

Fabinho: 7
Combined with Henderson to nullify the Spurs midfield, helping the England man form a wall on the halfway line that snuffed out Sissoko and Alli time and again.

Mohamed Salah: 7
Lashed home Liverpool's opener with supreme confidence and teed Milner and Mane up for good second-half chances despite seeing relatively little of the ball.

Sadio Mane: 7
Ran at Spurs from the outset and forced the penalty before playing a key role in Liverpool's late resurgence.

Roberto Firmino: 5
After a very quiet first half, Firmino cut an even more subdued figure after the interval and was replaced by Origi just before the hour-mark.

Substitutes

Divock Origi: 8
There was a buzz of excitement at the Liverpool end when Origi replaced Firmino and he did not disappoint, lashing the only chance that came his way into the bottom corner of Lloris' net.

James Milner: 7
Reinvigorated Liverpool on the hour, firing just wide from the edge of the box and rallying the troops to push for the second.

Joe Gomez: 5
Replaced Mane late on but had little to do.

Supporting cast members played essential roles as Liverpool and Tottenham mounted incredible comebacks to reach the Champions League final and now the time has come for the stars to shine.

Divock Origi helped to bury Barcelona, Lucas Moura left Ajax in ruins and yet neither semi-final hero has been able to squeeze into our combined XI of the individuals aiming to snatch the headlines this Saturday.

Harry Kane, an increasingly strong chance to feature at the Wanda Metropolitano, also sits out on this occasion with Opta data employed to aid the tough calls in areas of extreme depth.

Extra attention has been paid to performances in Europe and led to the creation of a high-performing team blessed with top talent from back to front.

 

Alisson

Liverpool would not have made it out of their group were it not for Alisson, who produced a superb save to preserve a slender one-goal lead in the closing stages against Napoli in December.

In that moment, the Brazil international – who finished the Premier League season with the Golden Glove having kept the most clean sheets – showed the value of spending big on a position of need.

 

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool's right-back gets the nod ahead of fellow England international Kieran Trippier. The Tottenham defender was superb for England at the 2018 World Cup but has not hit those same heights this season for his club and was left out of Gareth Southgate's squad for the Nations League Finals.

Alexander-Arnold has had his difficult moments too, and Jurgen Klopp opted to pick Joe Gomez ahead of him for the first leg of the semi-final against Barca. However, the 20-year-old is a key outlet for the Reds in attack, giving him the nod over his compatriot in this XI.

 

 

Virgil van Dijk

Can £75million be considered a bargain? When Liverpool agreed to stump up a record fee for a defender to get Van Dijk from Southampton, some questioned the figure for a player whose only previous Champions League experience had come at Celtic.

The Dutchman has turned out to be worth every last penny, becoming a colossal figure at the heart of Liverpool's defence despite a shuffling of the deck next to him due to injuries.

 

Jan Vertonghen

Vertonghen has been through the wars in this season's Champions League. The Belgian suffered a head injury in the first meeting with Ajax, leading to him being helped off the field before half-time, then played through the pain of an ankle injury as Spurs sealed a stunning comeback in stoppage time of the return fixture.

He made six more interceptions than team-mate Toby Alderweireld in two fewer appearances and shone in the efficient last-16 triumph over Borussia Dortmund, scoring one and creating another of the three first-leg goals.

 

Andy Robertson

Completing an all-Liverpool full-back pairing, Robertson makes the line-up after underlying his qualities in another superb campaign. His raids down the left caused Sergi Roberto all sorts of problems in the first leg against Barcelona, even if the Spanish side did come out on top.

Playing against Real Madrid a year ago in Kiev capped a remarkable debut season for Robertson on Merseyside. Now, 12 months on, he has established himself as one of the best full-backs in Europe.

 

Jordan Henderson

Klopp might find players knocking on his door more often after captain Henderson's request for fewer defensive responsibilities led to the rebirth of a high-energy, creative influence at the heart of a midfield that, in modern parlance, needed verticality.

An outstanding display in the quarter-final victory against Porto at Anfield in April heralded a box-to-box role as Henderson's best and, with a high tackle success rate of 81.25 per cent, Liverpool have lost none of the England international's combativeness.

 

Moussa Sissoko

From transfer flop to cream of the crop – the 2018-19 season has seen quite a turnaround for Sissoko, a midfielder with endless energy but who has also demonstrated his technical abilities, too.

Lucas' star turn at the Johan Cruijff ArenA could not have occurred without Sissoko harrying every Ajax player in sight and it is his superior passing and tackling numbers to James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum that are enough for a place in this three-man engine room.

 

Christian Eriksen

Kane's irregular availability through injury left others at Tottenham to pick up the slack in attack and Eriksen took the initiative, the Dane scoring twice and assisting four in the run to the final.

The 27 chances he created in 11 appearances account for more than Henderson and Roberto Firmino combined and proved the rumoured Real Madrid target as a player belonging to Europe's top bracket.

 

Sadio Mane

Patrolling the right flank is the dependable, incisive and indefatigable Mane, who has appeared in each of the Reds' 12 outings in Europe this term and been an inspirational figure.

In surely the best of his three seasons since arriving from Southampton, the unselfish Senegal winger has been responsible for creating 16 chances in the Champions League, more than each of the attackers angling for a place in this side's front three.

 

Son Heung-min 

England captain Kane's return to fitness presents something of a selection quandary for Mauricio Pochettino that seemed unthinkable until Son began tearing holes through opposition defences both domestically and on the continent.

In the South Korea star, the Spurs boss has an intelligent, agile forward who seems to relish playing centrally and supplies key goals in big games. His first in the quarter-finals against Manchester City tipped the balance in Tottenham's favour; the next two helped to torpedo the Premier League champions.

 

Mohamed Salah

Substituted in tears after damaging his shoulder in a tangle with Sergio Ramos this time last year, the stage is now set for Salah to enjoy a more fitting finale to another fine campaign.

The brilliant Egypt forward's four Champions League goals this time around included the crucial winner against Napoli that propelled Liverpool into the knockout rounds, and he will hope another can overwrite the images of his agony in the 2018 defeat to Madrid.

Moussa Sissoko is sure of Tottenham's quality as Mauricio Pochettino's side prepare for their crunch Champions League clash with Ajax. 

Tottenham lost 1-0 at Bournemouth in their penultimate Premier League game of the season, going down to nine men as Son Heung-min and Juan Foyth saw red. 

However, with Manchester United and Arsenal failing to pick up wins against Huddersfield Town and Brighton and Hove Albion respectively, Spurs' place in the Champions League for next season looks secure. 

Focus will now switch to Wednesday's tie at the Johan Cruyff ArenA, with Ajax - who won the KNVB Beker on Sunday - leading 1-0 from the first leg thanks to Donny van de Beek's goal. 

But Sissoko insists Tottenham can be full of confidence heading into the contest, and then Sunday's season-closer against Everton, despite a poor run of form that has seen them pick up just one win from their last six games in all competitions. 

"It is not every week we can play in this type of match," Sissoko told reporters. 

"Even away we still have a chance to win and we have to believe in ourselves. That is what we will try to do. 

"I think this week will be the biggest of the season for us. We have to be positive in our mind and not think too much. We know we have quality, we know we can beat these two teams but we have to show it on the pitch. I'm sure we will do it. 

"If you are in the semi-finals of the Champions League and the next season you are not in the competition, it will be a bit painful, but I don't think about that. 

"I'm sure in my head, like everyone, that we will be in the Champions League next season and for that we have to play a massive game on Wednesday to try to go to the final. [Then we have to] beat Everton." 

Sissoko believes Ajax's expansive approach could yet work in Spurs' favour and knows an early away goal could prove pivotal. 

"I think the good thing is Ajax is a team that likes to play," he added. "I don't think they will stick together at the back, sit at the back and only try to defend. 

"I think they will try to play, try to score and, for us, we know we have to score as early as possible." 

Lucas Moura says Tottenham must call on the spirit they showed against Manchester City in the quarter-finals if they are to overturn their Champions League last-four deficit to Ajax.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were beaten 1-0 in the opening leg at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Donny van de Beek's first-half strike enough for the Eredivisie side.

Spurs, though, have made a habit of late drama in this season's competition, having escaped the group stage thanks to goals scored in the final 10 minutes of games against PSV, Inter and Barcelona.

They were staring at a quarter-final exit against City, trailing 4-3 on aggregate with 17 minutes left of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium, only for Fernando Llorente's goal and Raheem Sterling's disallowed late effort to see them through.

And Lucas wants a repeat of those heroics in the Netherlands next week, saying: "The spirit against City was amazing, unbelievable. We need to play like that in Amsterdam.

"We went to the Etihad and played a very good game against City. We were strong mentally. Now we need to do the same: run, fight. I believe in my team-mates. Let's rest well now, prepare for the next game and believe always."

Lucas hopes Pochettino can work his magic after admitting the manager lost his temper at half-time of Tuesday's defeat.

"We gave them too much space and the coach said that in the changing room," said Lucas. "Was he angry? A little bit. He spoke to us, he did some changes. I cannot say everything because it's personal [private].

"You know Mauricio. He loves to touch our minds and to motivate. That's why we changed in the second half and played much, much better."

Moussa Sissoko also thinks it would be "foolish" to write off Spurs as they seek to reach the Champions League final for the first time.

"I believe we will go to Amsterdam and come back with qualification because I know the quality of this team," he said. "We have a lot of character. I think it would be foolish to write us off. We have proven that a lot of times this season.

"With 1-0, a lot of things can happen. Look at when we played Manchester City in the second game. In the first 20 minutes, there were five goals. Who would believe that? No one. So, hopefully, when we go to Amsterdam, we will score a lot of goals and get the qualification."

Moussa Sissoko suggested Tottenham were guilty of being "intimidated" by Ajax and feels overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit to reach the Champions League final would now be "even more beautiful".

Ajax, who eliminated Real Madrid and Juventus in the previous two rounds, took a huge step towards reaching the decider in Madrid after Donny van de Beek found the net in London, where the Dutch club dominated proceedings early on and were perhaps unfortunate not to score more.

It took midfielder Sissoko's introduction from the bench and a tactical rejig just after the hour-mark for the tide to turn, with the France international brought on after Jan Vertonghen was unable to continue following a blow to the nose.

Spurs still have it all to do in the return leg in Amsterdam next week, though, and Sissoko thinks Mauricio Pochettino's team may have been overawed in the club's first semi-final in Europe's premier club competition in over half a century.

"The start of the match was not good on our part, we were perhaps intimidated by the challenge," he told RMC Sport.

"We did not play our football. I tried to bring back the impact, in the second half it was better, we could have done better, it's a shame to lose this match but there is a second leg.

"The first thing in football is the impact - especially in this kind of match. This is only the first round."

Ajax lost the first leg in their last-16 tie against Madrid and travelled to Turin having drawn the opening encounter against Juve in the quarter-finals.

They won both of their return fixtures and, with that in mind, Sissoko feels Tottenham now reaching the final for the first time in their history would be even sweeter.

"We knew what this team was capable of - we saw it against Real Madrid and Juve, there is a lot of carefreeness and serenity in this team," he added.

"If we get the qualification there, it will be even more beautiful."

Tottenham lacked energy in their Champions League semi-final defeat to Ajax according to Mauricio Pochettino – a 1-0 loss for which he accepted his initial tactical approach was partly culpable. 

Donny van de Beek's wonderfully worked 15th-minute goal proved the difference between the teams at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, though it did not tell the full story of the visitors' early dominance. 

Moussa Sissoko's introduction in place of Jan Vertonghen, after the centre-back suffered a head injury, forced a change of shape from Spurs' initial 3-5-2 system and resulted in an improvement.

Pochettino believes his team are still in with a chance of claiming a final spot, despite the fact only one of the past 17 teams to lose the first leg at home in the competition has gone on to progress. 

"In the first half we started, not in a good way," Pochettino told BT Sport. 

"I think my feeling is that they were more reactive, they showed more energy than us. It was difficult for us to play. 

"Our lack of energy from the beginning in our approach made our game difficult. We conceded their goal and after 35 minutes we started to build the game.  

"After the injury of Jan Vertonghen, Sissoko provided the team with good intensity and we stated to play better – in the way that we wanted to play from the beginning. 

"In the second half we pushed them to struggle a little bit. It was an even game in the second half 

"Still, we are alive, only 1-0 down and need to believe we can go there and beat them." 

Sissoko excelling on his first outing since suffering a groin injury in the quarter-final second leg at Manchester City forced Pochettino to acknowledge that using a back four from the outset may have been the best way to nullify Ajax. 

"Of course, watching the game now, of course I can accept that it was a mistake to start in the shape that we used but there were not too many options to play with today," he said, but identified mistakes made on Van de Beek's goal that he felt had nothing to do with formations. 

He added: "I think it was our lack of energy and our lack of aggression, a little bit sloppy. 

"If you look at the Ajax goal, we were so sloppy conceding our goal. That is not a about four or five midfielders or two strikers. Our approach to the game wasn't good 

"It’s my responsibility always because I am the manager but in the second half we kept our possibility for the second leg. 

"We are alive, it's a little bit of an advantage for Ajax but it is still open." 

Vertonghen was bloodied following an aerial clash with team-mate Toby Alderweireld and Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana and, following lengthy treatment, an attempt to play on ended amid worrying scenes of the Belgium international being on unsteady legs by the touchline. 

"We are going to assess him in the next few days and we will see," Pochettino said. 

Moussa Sissoko was only fit enough for a place on Tottenham's bench in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final against Ajax. 

Sissoko has not featured for Spurs since sustaining a groin injury during the first half of their thrilling quarter-final second-leg encounter at Manchester City. 

The France midfielder trained with Mauricio Pochettino's squad on Monday but is among the replacements as Ajax look to add Spurs to a list of Champions League scalps reading Real Madrid and Juventus from the past two rounds. 

Fernando Llorente bundled in the north Londoners' decisive goal at the Etihad Stadium and leads the line in the respective injury and suspension absences of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

Jan Vertonghen sat out Saturday's 1-0 defeat to West Ham due to fatigue but returns to an expected back three alongside fellow former Ajax men Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld. 

The Spurs defence will have to contain the visitors' livewire forward line of David Neres, Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech. 

Argentina full-back Nicolas Tagliafico is back as expected for Erik ten Hag's men after sitting out the 2-1 quarter-final win at Juventus through suspension. 

Moussa Sissoko could miss the first leg of Tottenham's Champions League semi-final against Ajax according to Mauricio Pochettino, who said the midfielder could be out "for the next two weeks".

Spurs lost 1-0 to Manchester City three days after Sissoko picked up a groin injury in the second leg of their stunning Champions League quarter-final victory over Pep Guardiola's men and Pochettino said that he was not optimistic about the Frenchman's chances of a quick recovery.

Home games against Brighton and Hove Albion, and West Ham in the Premier League will give Spurs the chance to continue their push for third place in the Premier League ahead of the visit of Ajax, but Pochettino said he is not expecting Sissoko or fellow midfielder Harry Winks to feature.

Winks has been struggling with a similar problem to Sissoko but managed 81 minutes on Wednesday before sitting out Saturday's defeat at the Etihad Stadium.

"Moussa Sissoko is not going to be fit, maybe for the next two weeks," said Pochettino.

"We hope he can recover before but I am not so optimistic.

"Harry Winks we don't know because it is a problem that is one day very good, next day not very good, it is about assessing each day.

"We hope he will be available for Tuesday [against Brighton] but we are not sure."

Defeat at City on Saturday left Spurs just one point clear of fourth-placed Arsenal – who were then stunned 3-2 by Crystal Palace on Sunday – and Pochettino said the prospect of the Champions League semi-final would not distract his players from ending their domestic campaign on a high.

He said the opportunity to play three successive matches at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would give Spurs a lift, saying: "We hope we can keep going, getting the same result. It is going to be fantastic and it is going to be helpful for us playing in the new stadium with our fans and we hope and wish to repeat the performances of the previous results.

"We are not thinking of Ajax. We showed today that we are thinking in that today and that competition, the Premier League.

"Now our energy is on Brighton. It is so clear that we have two objectives – one is to be in the top four at the end of the season and the other is to beat Ajax, but we need to go step-by-step."

Moussa Sissoko says he did not realise Tottenham had qualified for the Champions League semi-finals at Manchester City's expense.

Raheem Sterling thought he had completed his hat-trick in added time to send City through 5-4 on aggregate, but the goal was dramatically ruled out for offside.

Christian Eriksen gave the ball away in his own half but Bernardo Silva touched the ball on to Sergio Aguero, meaning the forward was offside before squaring to Sterling.

Sissoko, who was replaced in the first half due to injury, revealed he was unaware Sterling's late strike had been disallowed as he had gone to the dressing room.

"At 4-3, it's extra-time, we thought we were going to do it, then I'm on the bench, and they scored this goal for 5-3," Sissoko told reporters.

"When I see that they score, I'm in all my mood, I go back to the dressing room so I didn't see that the goal had been cancelled, so in my head we were eliminated.

"And it was one of the staff members who told me, when he came back to the dressing room, "Incredible! We did it!'', I said, 'How did we do it?', he said, 'Yes, the goal was cancelled!' So at that moment I put on a T-shirt, I ran outside to celebrate with my team-mates.

"I forgot the injury and ran away because it was an emotional shock. It's a great thing, to be qualified for the semi-final, for us players and the club, it's something historic. I had to celebrate this qualification with everyone."

Tottenham lost their first two group stage matches but bounced back brilliantly to reach the knockout rounds, with Ajax now awaiting in the semi-finals after they downed City on away goals after Wednesday's 4-3 second-leg loss.

Spurs will be without Son Heung-min due to suspension in the first game and Harry Kane is injured, while Ajax have accounted for Real Madrid and Juventus in the last two rounds.

Captain Hugo Lloris, though, says Pochettino's side can go even further having reached the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in the club's history.

"Anything is possible at this stage of the competition, qualifying as we did... beat Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City," Lloris said.

"Even if they [Ajax] are still young players, they are already a great team. We have to take all the chances on our side to believe in the achievement.

"For the club, it's historic but we don't want to stop here."

City boss Pep Guardiola said it was a "cruel" way to settle a thrilling Champions League quarter-final, ending their quadruple hopes in the process, but Bernardo Silva defended the use of VAR.

Before Sterling's late goal was ruled out for offside, VAR checked a Spurs goal by Fernando Llorente that seemed to brush his arm before bouncing in off his leg.

"I think VAR is a good thing because it helps the referees make better decisions, so no problems with the VAR," Silva told reporters.

"Obviously I've had the opportunity to watch the last goal from Tottenham and the ball hits the hand [of Llorente]. No doubt about that, then the referee took his decision, so we have to respect it."

Moussa Sissoko described Hugo Lloris as an "unbelievable" goalkeeper after his penalty save helped Tottenham to a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Tuesday.

Spurs will take a narrow lead to the Etihad Stadium after Son Heung-min's second-half strike secured a victory in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final.

Sergio Aguero had the chance to open the scoring from the spot after only 13 minutes, but Lloris repelled the City striker's effort with a save to his left.

Sissoko was full of praise for his captain, who was at fault for Liverpool's last-minute winner in the Premier League on March 31, when he palmed Mohamed Salah's header off Toby Alderweireld and into the net.

"Hugo is an unbelievable keeper and he shows it every week," Sissoko told Spurs TV. "We are very lucky to have him with us, so hopefully he can keep going in that way until the end of the season."

Sissoko thinks Spurs wanted the result more than City, as they became the first team to beat Pep Guardiola's side in any competition since Newcastle United on January 29.

When asked what the secret to their winning performance was, the midfielder replied: "I think our desire.

"We work as a team from the beginning to the end and Hugo kept us in the game with this big save. I think we can all be happy about the performance and we need to keep going.

"We are very happy about the performance. We knew it would be a tough game. City are one of the best teams in the world.

"But we were playing at home, in front of our fans, in this amazing stadium, so we knew we could do it. It was a very tough game, but we won."

Jurgen Klopp still believes in Liverpool's chances of a "fairy-tale" Premier League title triumph after their dramatic 2-1 win over Tottenham on Sunday.

An own goal from Toby Alderweireld in the 90th minute gave the Reds victory, sending them two points above Manchester City at the top of the table, having played a game more.

Spurs looked to be heading for a deserved point after Lucas Moura cancelled out Roberto Firmino's opener, but Hugo Lloris failed to catch a Mohamed Salah header and the ball bounced over the line off Alderweireld to send Anfield into raptures.

Klopp admitted afterwards he had no idea how the winning goal was ultimately scored, but he is not at all concerned that this was an "ugly" win.

"I was relatively calm because it was a surprise, that situation," the Liverpool manager told Sky Sports. "I saw nothing and saw the players celebrating, I had no clue how the ball went in.

"I wasn't happy we conceded, but we needed it a bit. First half, we had fantastic chances; second half, we had heavy legs, couldn't really play, they changed only a little bit, but we didn't adapt well.

"After that, we started playing more and had the chances. We should know there's always a moment you can use. We had to work the whole game for two situations. It's clear we can play better football but first half we had a lot of good moments, second half not many, but we had them, scored a goal, brilliant.

"If at the end of the season we can be first, it must be a kind of fairy-tale, a miracle. City won it last season and are still pretty good, full of greed and desire - we have to fight like crazy. There are 500 ways to win a game; today was slightly ugly. Who cares?

"I'm happy we don't have any breaks now. We stay together, we're all thinking the same thing – how you compete with the best team in the world for one position. We need training together to improve, do the right things. It's all good. We will be there."

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino felt his side should be pleased with the level of their performance, despite the result extending their winless run in the league to five matches.

Indeed, he described his players as "heroes" as they aim to get their top-four challenge back on track against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, their first game in their new stadium.

"We feel disappointed, but at the same time need to be happy," he told BBC Sport. "We conceded a goal when we should be ahead, we dominated Liverpool and deserve a lot of praise, but when you lose a game it's difficult to split the result with the form. 

"The players have seven games. It's a mini league, seven games, and playing the way we played today I think we can achieve top four. 

"The team are devastated but at the same time satisfied with the performance. No one wants to lose, but it's a different defeat to Southampton or Burnley. We can stay positive and play in the same way.

"It's in our hands to be in the top four. We have to think they are our heroes. Everyone is going to be excited, they are going to come and try to beat us. The energy is going to be so important."

Tottenham moved up to second in the Premier League after Martin Dubravka let Son Heung-min's 83rd-minute shot squirm under his body to gift Mauricio Pochettino's men a 1-0 win over Newcastle United.

After coming from behind to beat Watford in midweek, Spurs dominated their visitors for lengthy spells at Wembley but lacked a killer instinct in the absence of injured duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

Lucas Moura started in Kane's normal position but posed scant threat to a packed Newcastle defence, while at the other end Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez were a nuisance throughout.

Just as Newcastle looked set to extend their unbeaten Premier League run to three matches, Son's shot from the edge of the box squirmed under Dubravka and secured a win that keeps Spurs' faint title hopes alive.

Mauricio Pochettino is not overly concerned about Christian Eriksen's contract situation at Tottenham and is convinced that "no news is good news".

Eriksen is enjoying another fine season with Spurs and played a starring role in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Cardiff City, scoring their second goal.

That took the Denmark international to four Premier League goals for the campaign, while he has also set up a further seven.

The 26-year-old's contract expires at the end of next season and talks are said to be dragging on, with speculation suggesting a deal is still some way off, but Pochettino is not worried.

"I don't have news," the coach said. "The phrase is, 'No news is good news'. In that case, I don't know. No news is good news."

Although goalscorers Eriksen, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min caught the eye in Tuesday's victory, Pochettino singled out Moussa Sissoko for praise.

"I think one of his strengths is his physical condition," Pochettino said. "Of course, he's doing a fantastic job for the team.

"I think we are so happy and so pleased. That is what you expect from a player when he signs, to step up and show their quality and in the way he's playing. It's very good news for Tottenham."

The win in Cardiff lifted Spurs back up to second ahead of Manchester City, at least until Thursday when the champions face leaders Liverpool.

That contest looks likely to have a major impact on where the title ends up in May, though Pochettino insists he is not bothered about the result.

He added: "I think we are going to watch it. In this country all the people are going to watch the game, but I will be in a neutral position trying to enjoy the game.

"I don't care about the result, I just want to enjoy the spectacle and the game."

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