Pochettino refuses to blame Alli for Europa League exit

Mauricio Pochettino has given his backing to Dele Alli, despite the midfielder’s costly red card in Tottenham’s Europa League exit.

Alli was dismissed for an ugly high challenge on Gent’s Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw against the Belgian outfit, as a 3-2 aggregate defeat sent Pochettino’s men crashing out of the competition.

The England international was sent off just before half-time when the scores were 1-1 – leaving Spurs requiring two second half goals with only 10 men.

However, Pochettino refused to blame Alli for the aggregate loss, as Gent surprisingly progressed to the quarter-finals.

"He is very disappointed and sad," said Pochettino.

"In football, it happens. He knows he made a mistake. Now he tries to move on and improve. In the future we must avoid that situation.

"It's difficult. It's not to justify him but it's a different action, he was fouled before, it was an action that was a clear foul. That's not to blame the referee but the action came in very soon, that tackle, and I think he deserved to be sent off. He knows. But that kind of action can always happen.

"It's only one and a half years he is playing for Tottenham in the Premier League, all that he achieved in a very short period is because he is special and a special boy.

"He has unbelievable personality and character. But before that he is a great player.

"In the same way, he is how he is. He is very passionate to play football and sometimes this action happens. Now it's time to support him, he is very sad and disappointed in the changing room."