The Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood hit back at the Benfica manager Jorge Jesus, accusing his opposite number of “lacking class” for goading him as Spurs slipped to a damaging 3-1 first leg defeat in the Europa League last-16 tie.
Jesus held up three fingers to Sherwood when defender Luisao scored his second of the night, and the Portuguese club's third goal, prompting a confrontation between the two men. The Benfica coach had to be pulled away by his own assistants who he then began to remonstrate with and, in some cases, push away from him.
At the start of the game, Jesus had reacted angrily to Sherwood for encroaching in his technical area. Jesus later claimed that his three-finger gesture was a reference to Luisao, who wears the No 4 shirt. When it was put to him that Sherwood found it disrespectful, Jesus said, “That's his problem”.
Sherwood said: “I thought his team were very good and showed a lot of class. It's just a shame [Jesus did not]. In the first two minutes he was going over to the fourth official saying I was stepping in his box. He doesn't mind himself, does he, to be fair. Waving goodbye like that? It lacks class. Why would anyone do that. He's got a good side, of course he has, but not for me thank you. I have no intention of speaking to him.”
Christian Eriksen scored Spurs' only goal of the night. Rodrigo got the first for Benfica, leaving Spurs in a difficult position for the return leg in Lisbon on Thursday. Sherwood said: “We'll have a go, we'll do our best. They're better than us, weren't they? They had a lot of attacking threat. They weren't great first half.
“They had one shot which went in, a blow, and then we got done on two set-pieces. That's a disappointment, but we haven't opened them up. It's a blow. No problem with the attitude or desire. It's just we have to hold our hands up and say they're a class above.”
There are more injuries looming for Spurs ahead of Sunday's Premier League derby at White Hart Lane against Arsenal. Kyle Walker and Sandro both came off tonight with groin injuries. Emmanuel Adebayor took a blow to his ankle. After his extremely critical post-match analysis, Sherwood said that he was satisfied with the effort tonight but said his team were beaten by a better side.
Sherwood said: “No problem with the desire and effort tonight. That's what I questioned and asked for. We've got to see it over a consistent basis. No complaints about that.”
He said later that the derby was the right challenge for his team at this stage given how much was at stake. “We've got the best game we could have, a north London derby. We won't need any more motivation than that. Probably the best game we could have. I always thought it was a good time to be playing Arsenal, but it's ups and downs. We have to soldier on. Coming off the back of two defeats, we have to go out there and be counted.”
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