Do you have one foot in the semi-finals?
“It’s only half time [of the tie] and we experienced what can happen in football last Saturday. I feel a good atmosphere in the dressing room. We are happy but not too happy, excited but not too excited. We made a few good attacks and got two good goals today. It was hard for us to create touches in the box, find the right rhythm for a long time. Overall we escaped with a very, very good result. But it’s the quarter-finals and we have to keep on going, it will be necessary for another top performance and top mentality next Tuesday.”
First goals for Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell in the Champions League. Were they goals with real quality?
“There was a lot of composure from Chilly. It wasn’t so easy to score late because it was a physical and demanding match for him. We had a not so precise pass but Chilly was able to profit from the mistake of the defender and he stayed very calm. He isn’t used to scoring so it was pretty impressive and gave us a big advantage. It was a big step to score a second goal. The first goal was very important for us because it came at a moment after which we had suffered a lot, that the team was too tense, we were not precise enough, we lacked rhythm, lacked the freedom to adapt to positions and be more active. Our game was a bit static. The finishing was clinical and the finish was excellent from Mason. He has the quality to do this and to do it in a quarter-final is a big step for him and a big help for the team. I am very happy about the two.”
Is Mason Mount the best young player in England?
“He is a young player from our academy a very important player for our squad at a young age. I can only repeat that he has the right mentality and attitude towards training and games. He has the right attitude towards success. He has both feet on the ground, is open and hungry to learn. It is very difficult for me to compare players in different positions and even in the same positions. There are different roles and players have different tasks. So I am not the right guy to judge who is the best and second best. Mason is an important and key player for us and I am happy he fits into this role at a young age. It is good to have him.”
Was it important to show a reaction defensively today after Saturday’s defeat?
“Yes, it was absolutely necessary to show these little details and the reaction. We had a lot of good results in a row, so we had a very bad result and our first loss on Sunday. It was a chance to bounce back and show a reaction so it was our first loss together and the first reaction that we showed. It was a tough match because Porto was very, very strong. We suffered a bit because I felt us a little bit tense and not precise enough, free enough or courageous enough during the first half, so life was hard for us because Porto showed a lot of quality. We absolutely accepted it and we needed a bit of luck to escape with a 2-0 and a clean sheet but after conceding last Saturday and losing in such a strange game. The best way would be to escape and produce a clean sheet straight away and this makes this result very precious. I am very happy that we had a lot of possession, we could escape the pressure very well and the substitutions were a big big help today. So yes, it was our first response after our first loss together and I am very happy with the result. I can understand that we felt the tension when it comes to a quarter-final and we accept the quality of Porto. They are a proud club and an emotional club, an emotional team. So the players know very well what they did today and they need to do it again on Tuesday.”
Your substitutions would suggest you weren’t that comfortable with just the one-goal lead, did you want a second?
“I accepted that it was a tough match for Timo and for Kai today. They did not have their best day but we did not deliver so well [for them]. The connection between the deep seven players that we needed for the build-up and the front three, we lost a bit the connection to them. The balls we delivered were not the best balls and I could feel our two German players up front, Kai and Timo, did not play on their highest level today so I wanted to have an impact from the bench. Christian has a good momentum, Oli has waited long and has good experience and memories of this stadium. We wanted to give the sign that we keep on going [in the game]. This is the mentality in general that I like about this club and this team and that we want to implement. Once you lead, it is very hard to not play with the mentality of having something to lose. You want to keep what you have. But you need to go to try to win the next half and go and try to win the next duels and try to score the next goal. The best way to defend is to attack. The best way to impress the opponents is to have ball possession to be couraged and to always be a threat. I am happy about the impact of our substitutions. It is absolutely necessary that we have this bond between the players and we have this impact from the bench physically, but also with quality. That’s why we are super happy with a big win today. The job is half done and we are aware of that and we need another top performance on Tuesday.
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