Michael Dawson desperate to avoid Europa League

Tottenham captain Michael Dawson admits that playing in the Europa League next season would be a big let down after the experience of taking part in the Champions League left him desperate for more.

Spurs bowed out of their maiden campaign Europe's biggest club competition at the quarter-final stage last night after a 5-0 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid.

Following the exit, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was quick to emphasise the importance of clawing back the three points that separate his team and Manchester City, who occupy the final Champions League qualification spot.

Having beaten both Milan giants before losing to nine-time European champions Madrid, Dawson is keen for Tottenham to pip City to fourth and go head to head with the continent's biggest sides again next year.

"The Champions League is where you want to be," Dawson said.

"For the last couple of seasons we've been in the Europa League but every player wants to play in the Champions League and play against the players that were on show last night.

"Real Madrid have got some world-class players and every player wants to test himself against the best.

"It was a tough test, but we've been there, we've done it and now we're hungry for more."

Madrid looked the better of the two teams over the tie, but there may well be a nagging thought in Harry Redknapp's mind that his team could have overcome their opponents had it not been for two costly individual errors.

Heurelho Gomes' mistake in spilling Cristiano Ronaldo's shot into his own net was a poor way for Spurs' campaign to end, but in truth the damage had already been done after Peter Crouch's 15th-minute dismissal in the Bernabeu proved to be the catalyst for the 4-0 first-leg defeat.

Dawson, who missed all the club's group-stage games through injury, still believes that Tottenham should be proud of their achievements though.

He said: "We knew, after last week, that it was going to be an uphill task, but we came out in the first half and played well.

"We had a couple of chances and a couple of penalty shouts. We can hold our heads high."

Gomes' failure to hold onto Ronaldo's second-half strike will have done little to dampen the worries over the Brazilian's reliability, but Dawson has backed his team-mate to recover from the setback quickly.

"It's unfortunate for Gomes, I'm gutted for him because he's been fantastic," Dawson said.

"He's pulled us out of trouble on many occasions so it's unfortunate for him but we win together and we lose together."

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