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7:45 PM UTC Jan 16, 2019
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Pochettino eyes deep Champions League run with Spurs: 'We can dream'

LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino hailed Tottenham's progress in Europe and encouraged supporters to "dream" of the Champions League final after Wednesday's 3-0 win over Apoel Nicosia.

Goals from Fernando Llorente, Son Heung-Min and Georges-Kevin N'Koudou ensured Spurs finished the group stage with more points than any other club and they are one of five English sides in Monday's last-16 draw.

Pochettino admitted that Europe may have distracted his side in the Premier League, where they have won one of the last six games, but he said there is no reason they cannot make the final in Kiev.

"It was so important and it is fantastic achievement and it is a thing to [give] pride to the team," Pochettino said of Spurs' tally of 16 points from a possible 18.

"But now it is a long way, still a long way. We need to wait until the end of February to play again, we need to see the draw and I hope that we keep that level and of course more motivation and everything, to play in the best competition in the world is massive.

Tottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur
Apoel NicosiaApoel Nicosia
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"We are going to try to win every game and to try to go as far as we can. In football always you can dream and, why not? We can dream."

Last season, Spurs beat only CSKA Moscow in the Champions League group stage but they have now done the double over Apoel and Borussia Dortmund and beaten Real Madrid at Wembley.

"It's a massive change. We feel it's completely different," Pochettino continued. "Last season we were so disappointed about how we played, how difficult it was for us to compete in the Champions League.

"This season we've improved a lot. It's true that we've expended a lot of energy in different games and maybe it's affected us a little bit in the Premier League.

"Now we need to be focused on the Premier League and start to win games again. Of course from one season to another, I think it's a massive step up for us."

Summer signing Llorente, 32, scored his first Tottenham goal in his 17th appearance for the club, opening the scoring with a smart turn and finish before setting-up Son's second with a deft touch.

The Spaniard was guilty of a bad miss in the 2-1 defeat to Leicester last week and Pochettino said he had been nervous about his failure to find the net.

Mauricio Pochettino & Dele Alli
Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with Spurs' performances in the Champions League group stage.

"He waited a lot to score again," Pochettino said. "The striker needs to feel the net. You know very well how they wait week and week after and if you don't score they always are very nervous. It's not only about playing, it's about scoring. So happy, he's so happy now.

"I think always he's a player who is going to help, is helping a lot, but now I think with more confidence and belief, he is going to help the team more.

"Very pleased. It was very important for him. Always when you are a striker you need to feel the net and score. Today it was fantastic for him. Of course, the players always need time to adapt their qualities to the new team and club.

"When you arrive with no preseason, you need time and when you don't have too many possibilities to play and to get fit and to find your best level, I'm so happy because 90 minutes was so important for so many players, who waited a lot to feel 90 minutes.

"Always it's so different to play maybe 30, 20 or 15 minutes. It's so important for them to feel again that they can cope with the effort of 90 minutes."

Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.


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