Andre Villas-Boas hopes Tottenham can use Europa League exit as catalyst for top-four push

Spurs went out on penalties to Basel

Andre Villas-Boas hopes the disappointment of Tottenham's Europa League exit can act as a catalyst in their charge for a top-four finish.

After red cards, an off-the-pitch stabbing, racist chanting and two last-gasp wins, Spurs saw their hopes of European success end in fittingly dramatic style at the quarter-final juncture.

Having been held to a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane, Villas-Boas' side took the lead at St Jakob-Park through Clint Dempsey.

Basle hit back through Mohamed Salah and Aleksandr Dragovic, only for Dempsey to take the game to extra time by making it 4-4 on aggregate with his second of the night.

Spurs did well considering they had to do without Jan Vertonghen after his sending-off late in regulation time, with penalties eventually proving their undoing.

Tom Huddlestone and Emmanuel Adebayor failed from the spot, meaning Tottenham's full focus is now on securing Champions League football.

"We wanted to be in it," Spurs boss Villas-Boas said. "The fact we are not in it will allow us longer weeks to prepare for league games.

"We have six games left before the season finishes. That is the reality.

"Ideally we wanted to be there [in the semi-finals] but, if it's going to serve as something good, it will definitely allow more time for the players to rest.

"We can't over-train even though the weeks become longer, with the habits becoming dramatically different for us.

"It's six games left for the rest of the season and we hope to be fully ready to respond."

Despite remaining upbeat, the Portuguese was understandably frustrated with his side's exit from the competition he won with Porto.

"Obviously we are extremely disappointed," Villas-Boas added. "We did ever so well to cancel the two goals from White Hart Lane.

"I think we played a better game this time round. Both teams were very attacking so compliments to both, with eight goals in two ties.

"In penalties anything can happen and it wasn't our day - it's part of the game.

"I think within all of this disappointment we are extremely happy to set a great standard and a great example this season for English football for the way we approach this competition."

Chelsea, Fenerbahce, Benfica and Basle make up the four semi-finalists, with the latter's manager, Murat Yakin, excited by the prospect of another upset.

"We are of course all happy," the former Switzerland international said. "You can see the great atmosphere and the players' celebrations. It is just great.

"It was the fruits of our hard work. The first leg was decisive, I would say.

"It is a great competition. We showed that we wanted to do well in this competition and stay in it. The match was not like I thought it would be, but at the end we made it through and that is the most important thing."

PA

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