Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said his players “are not machines” after their title hopes suffered an unexpected setback thanks to a dramatic comeback win by Wolves at Wembley.
Spurs led through Harry Kane’s spectacular 25-yard strike in the first half but Wolves punished a poor second-half performance, scoring three times in the final 18 minutes to end their hosts’ five-game winning run.
The north London side would have moved only three points behind leaders Liverpool with a win, but the defeat and the Reds’ 5-1 win over Arsenal means the Merseyside club ended the day nine points clear.
“We have had a very good run in the last few weeks and to keep that level is difficult,” said Pochettino, whose side won 6-2 and 5-0 against Everton and Bournemouth respectively in their last two games.
“We tried to play a little more in the second half, but we were too direct and I think we started to pay for the effort in the other games.
“We are not machines. We need to understand that we cannot get ourselves in this situation.”
Spurs’ performance in the second half was in a stark contrast to their previous two games, when they scored 11 goals.
That free-scoring form had led manager Pochettino to admit his side were “intruders” in the title race, but a fifth league defeat of the season halts the momentum they had built.
The north London side played well in the first half and had 10 efforts on goal, though most – including Kane’s goal – came from distance. Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min were particularly lively.
But after the break they were flat and lacked cohesion, the influence of Kane, Son and Eriksen diminished, and the introduction of Lucas Moura failed to spark them into life.
The tension inside Wembley increased as the home support witnessed their team lose control of the game as Wolves, who had barely threatened in the first half, grew in confidence.
After Boly’s deserved equaliser, the Spurs fans tried to squeeze more from their team but it was Wolves, helped by some slack defending, who created all of the chances late on.
“We did not dominate the ball in the second half,” Pochettino said.
“We were wrong in the way we tried to play, too much long ball and our energy dropped in the second half.”