Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino criticised his players after they suffered their heaviest defeat to Stoke in 80 years.

Spurs' Champions League hopes were extinguished at the Britannia Stadium in the most humiliating fashion as they were hammered 3-0 on Saturday.

Charlie Adam, Steven Nzonzi and Mame Diouf found the net thanks to three episodes of shoddy defending from the visitors.

Jan Vertonghen flicked the ball into Adam's path for the opener before Eric Dier wiped out goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to leave Nzonzi with an easy finish for the second.

Tottenham were reduced to 10 men when Vlad Chiriches was dismissed for a second yellow card, and the third defensive foul-up saw Vertonghen lose Diouf, who tapped in at the near post at the death.

After such a woeful afternoon, Pochettino could not find any positive words to say about his team's performance.

"I think we were poor from the beginning," the Argentinian said.

"We are very disappointed for our supporters, our club and for us, because the way that we lost the game showed that we need to be stronger and ready to compete.

"You could see in the first half that they were better than us and we gave them the opportunity to score. We were poor."

Tottenham are three points behind Liverpool – who have a match in hand – and are just one point ahead of Southampton in the chase for the last definite Europa League spot.

Chiriches picked up his first booking for dragging down Jon Walters after the Irishman had turned away down the right flank.

And the Romanian received a second caution for knocking Diouf off the ball in the 51st minute.

The second yellow card was much harsher than the first, but Pochettino refused to blame the defeat on the dismissal.

He said: "From my position, it is difficult to know if it was a red card or not, but that is no excuse. We need to play better from the beginning of the game."

Spurs rarely threatened the hosts. Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen had quiet games, while Erik Lamela once again failed to show why the club paid B£30million for his services two years ago.

Stoke, on the other hand, played some brilliant free-flowing attacking football, particularly in the first half.

They capitalized on shaky displays from Vertonghen and Dier by attacking down the flanks and, had it not been for a number of top saves by Lloris, the scoreline could have been even more embarrassing.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes rated the triumph as one of the best of a campaign that has seen the Potters equal the 50-point total they reached last year with two matches left.

"I think it's up there with our best performances of the season," the Welshman said.

"I was delighted today. I thought from start to finish that the level of performance was really high. The quality of play was excellent, certainly in the first half when we dominated what was, on paper, a really good Spurs side.

"I don't think we allowed them to get a foothold in the game. They had the problem of going down to 10 men but in fairness that was probably their better period.

"Overall we were very comfortable in the game."

The win moved Stoke above West Ham into ninth.

They are three points short of Swansea, who have tricky fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester City and Crystal Palace to come.

"We've still got two games and we will try to maximize the points we can get from those and see where that takes us," said Hughes, who has to play Burnley and Liverpool before the end of the season.

"Fifty points is a good marker, and let's see if we can get maximum points from the last two."

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