Mauricio Pochettino paid tribute to Fernando Llorente and Son Heung-min after they inspired Tottenham’s late comeback in their 2-1 win against Watford.
Llorente headed home an 87th-minute winner after earlier producing a shocking miss that would have made it onto any blooper DVD, while Son had provided the perfect homecoming present by equalising on his first appearance back from international duty with South Korea at the Asian Cup.
Spurs were heading for a third successive Premier League defeat at Wembley after trailing to Craig Cathcart’s first-half header, but their turnaround strengthens their top-four position in a round of games where results have gone in their favour.
It also comes on the back of exiting two cup competitions inside four days and lifts the mood.
Llorente’s spirit will also have been lifted after atoning for an embarrassing miss, where he somehow put the ball over the crossbar from just three yards out.
The Spaniard has had a tough gig at Spurs, stuck in Harry Kane’s shadow, but Pochettino has been impressed.
“I was so happy. Normally I never celebrate goals but today I felt a bit of freedom to celebrate because we deserved to win,” he said.
“I am so happy because Fernando worked so hard, working the last four games with Harry Kane out, he’s working so hard for the team, to help the team to win three points today is a massive thing.
“Always it builds the confidence in a striker and more when you are competing with Harry Kane, or behind Harry Kane, one of the best strikers in the world, always it’s difficult.
“Always you need time. But in all this time he’s been a fantastic professional and always was pushing and helping the team.”
Son arrived back in the UK on Saturday after playing three games for his country in little over 10 days but provided Spurs with a much-needed spark.
He ended the game with cramp as Pochettino ignored his plan to take him off.
“For me it was too much,” the Argentinian said of keeping him on for 90 minutes.
“It wasn’t the plan to play with him for the full 90 minutes but how the result was, you know in that moment I talked with Jesus [Perez] and I said maybe we need to take a little bit of a risk to keep him playing.
“He finished very tired, with some cramp. We’re going to see if he can recover for the next game, if he’s OK maybe he’s going to be in the starting eleven, if not on the bench.
“For sure if we need him, he’s going to help the team. That’s one circumstance more.”
Pochettino also spoke about lifting the gloom those two cup exits brought on the club, as bizarre as it is for there to be negativity considering his side could go second if they beat Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime.
“With all the circumstances I think finishing in that way after 90 minutes is a fantastic way to end that negativity that was around in the last few days,” he said.
“How it changes things when you get a victory like today, you are for sure more optimistic and people see things differently to yesterday.”