Champions League focus has cost Spurs in the Premier League, admits Pochettino

Tottenham have been so intent on performing in the Champions League this season that they allowed themselves to become distracted from the job at hand in the Premier League, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs thrashed Stoke City 5-1 at Wembley to move up to fifth in the table, above Arsenal and Burnley on goal difference, but they are still 15 points behind leaders Manchester City, who play neighbours Manchester United on Sunday.

Yet while they have struggled for consistency in domestic action, Spurs have been superb in Europe, winning Group E ahead of Real Madrid as they eased into the knockout stages.

Their contrasting fortunes at home and abroad completely reverses their results from the previous campaign, as Pochettino's side failed to reach the last 16 in continental competition, but were Chelsea's closest challengers in the league.

"Last season we were frustrated because we were very good in the Premier League but we were a disaster in the Champions League," the former Southampton manager told BBC Sport.

"This season the team was so determined to show that they can compete in the Champions League and when you mix it with the Premier League that maybe was a bit of a distraction.

"But now we can only be focused on the Premier League and winning games."

Stoke manager Mark Hughes was disappointed with the way his side subsided in the second half.

The visitors - who sit 16th in the table, three points above the relegation zone - conceded four goals after the break and now have the worst defence in the Premier League

"The manner of the defeat is hard to take, I have to say, because the second half was far from acceptable, and it does hurt us," the Welshman told the club's website.

"The first 45 minutes I thought we did okay up to a point - they created a couple of chances and were lucky to score the goal that they did.

"We looked bright on the break, we were clearly trying to exploit the spaces behind their full-backs and in between their centre-halves, and I thought we did that to a reasonable level.

"We were encouraged at half-time, we knew we needed to stay in the game, but we weren't ready and we conceded two awful goals early on - one from a free-kick and another from a moment where we should have cleared it."

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