KULUSEVSKI: WE’RE A MATCH FOR ANY OF THE TOP SIDES
SWEDISH STAR SAYS DRAW AT ETIHAD SHOWS SPURS HAVE EVERYTHING NEEDED TO COMPETE WITH BEST
Dan Kilpatrick Chief Football Correspondent
DEJAN KULUSEVSKI says Tottenham’s 3-3 draw at Manchester City proves they can match any side, even without key players, and insists the club has “everything to be at the top” under Ange Postecoglou.
Kulusevski’s 90th-minute header earned a depleted Spurs a point against the champions, ending their run of three consecutive defeats.
Before the match, Postecoglou had promised not to compromise on his attacking principles at the Etihad, but acknowledged that even some of his squad may be questioning the wisdom of taking the game to City without 11 first-team players.
Spurs, though, were rewarded for their brave approach by twice equalising in the second half, and Kulusevski told Standard Sport: “I’m not questioning anything!
“I love exactly his mentality because that’s how I want to live my life. We have to grow, but the best thing in life is not be afraid of anything and just go.
“Doesn’t matter who you’re playing against or what you’re doing in life, just go. And if it messes up, it messes up. You did it with your heart. You’re not afraid.
“You’re trying to win the game, not trying to lose the game. I love the [manager’s] game-plan. It’s hard, because City are one of the best teams in the world and everything was not perfect, but second half, with 10 players out, playing like this is unbelievable for him and also for the team. So I really, really like him [Postecoglou] a lot. His tactics, his mentality, that’s the guy you want to work with! ‘No fear, just go!’ I’m happy to work with him every day.”
He added: “We proved we can play against anybody, without a lot of good players. We just have to grow a little bit mentally and we’re going to be at the top. That’s the only thing missing. The football is there. The coach is there. We have everything at Tottenham.”
Heung-min Son opened the scoring after finishing off a brilliant breakaway move, but turned a free-kick into his own net just 137 seconds later, before Phil Foden left Spurs trailing 2-1 at the interval.
Postecoglou admitted Spurs could have been “blown away” in the first half, and Kulusevski revealed the manager gave his players a rocket at the interval. “The coach was very angry at half-time,” said the Swede. “He said to us we have to start playing, that it’s not good enough and we were afraid.
“We always say, ‘Don’t be afraid’, but we didn’t play well enough. We came out for the second half and thought, ‘What happens, happens. Just play!’
“The second half was unbelievable. What a team. I’m so proud of the team in the second half. How we played out from the back, we controlled the ball, we didn’t let them have the ball.”
Asked if City, who have now drawn three games on the bounce, were not the same side as last season, he added: “I don’t think they have dropped. They have very good players. They’re missing one of the best, [Kevin] De Bruyne, but you can hurt them. If you’re good, you can hurt anybody. So they are a very good team, but we’re also a good team.”
Giovani Lo Celso fired Spurs level at 2-2 with his second goal in as many games, before Jack Grealish thought he had won it for City nine minutes from time. But Kulusevski had the last word, heading home Brennan Johnson’s cross to cap another excellent performance at No8 in the first half and back on the right wing after half-time.
“Now it’s the real me,” he said. “I don’t look back, I just enjoy the moment and I want to play like this every game. [To score] was a shock, because I didn’t see the ball go in. I was on the floor and
I was checking around me, saw the referee and he was so stressed. I just screamed with my team-mates and I enjoyed the moment.”
He added: “The [injured] players are going to come back and we’re going to play City again.
And we’ve got to start winning now. We’re proud of yesterday, but we have two home games now and have to get six points.”
In with a shout: Kulusevski after his late header secured a draw
Evening Standard Limited