Tottenham Hotspur FC captain Ledley King admitted two goals in the first eight minutes had left his side "shell-shocked" and effectively ended their hopes of eliminating holders Sevilla FC to reach the UEFA Cup semi-finals.
Trailing 2-1 from last week's first leg in Spain, the English team were confident they could prevail in their quarter-final tie, but instead a Steed Malbranque own goal and a well-worked strike from former Tottenham forward Frédéric Kanouté left the Londoners with what proved to be an irretrievable deficit. "It's very disappointing," said King, 26. "We thought we still had a great chance after the first leg but 2-0 down after eight minutes left us shell-shocked for the rest of the first half. We never got going at all."
Second-half efforts from Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon briefly revived Tottenham hopes, but King acknowledged that their nightmare start had given them too much to do. "We were really looking forward to the game and everyone felt if we could come out and get off to a flier, we could make it really difficult for them. We emphasised we needed to start brightly and get off to a flier. Maybe we were too attacking - 1-0 would have got us through but that's hindsight. We wanted to come out and get them on the back foot but we quickly had to change our plans."
The English international centre-back returned from three and a half months on the sidelines with injuries to both feet, and conceded the last few months had been difficult. "It's been a frustrating time - I expected to be out for a couple of weeks so four months was hard to take. I was close to coming back a few times but the foot was never ready so I had to keep waiting. I'm still nowhere near match fitness or sharpness but I wanted to play - I felt I could come in and help the team. I'm the captain and I'd missed playing. I wanted to help us get through and hopefully go on to lift the cup. I want to do well for this team."
Although bitterly disappointed by what he considered a premature exit from the UEFA Cup, with Tottenham lying seventh in the Premiership with six games to play, King was keen to secure a return to the competition at the earliest available opportunity. "We always believed we could win the trophy. We were really enjoying ourselves in the UEFA Cup, we felt the style of football suited us and we enjoyed our time in the competition. Now our aim is to make sure we're in it again next year and we've all got to work hard for the rest of the season to make sure we do that."
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