Nine-man Spurs narrowly miss out on a point

Saturday 4th May 2019  Bournemouth 1-0 Tottenham

It was a game to forget for Spurs fans at the Vitality stadium today, as an injury-time Bournemouth winner meant we missed our chance to guarantee champions league football next season following shock red cards to both Son Heung-Min and Juan Foyth.

For manager Pochettino, the result is less than ideal given the huge game on the horizon, as we gear up to overturn a 1 goal deficit when we face Ajax in the Champions League semi-final second leg in Amsterdam on Wednesday night.

In a frustrating first half where we squandered several chances to take the lead, Son Heung-Min was dismissed shortly before half time for pushing Jefferson Lerma in an uncharacteristic display of anger. This lack of discipline was a trend of the first half, too, with Eric Dier booked and fortunate not to receive a second, as well as getting away with a foul that on another day could have been a penalty. In reality Bournemouth could conceivably have been awarded two penalties in the first half alone.

It seemed that things couldn’t get much worse for us. But, just two minutes after the interval, that’s exactly what happened. Brought on at half time to shore up the defence, youngster Juan Foyth showed his inexperience and a worrying lack of composure with a studs-up challenge on Jack Simpson. Reaching for his pocket, the referee had no choice but to show his second red card of the game.

Before the two red cards killed off our attacking threat, the main opposition to a Spurs goal was 19-year-old Irish goalkeeper Mark Travers, who made a storming senior debut with five saves in the first half to keep Spurs at bay. The young keeper was a spectator in the second half however, with a strong defensive showing from nine-man Spurs leaving Bournemouth short of ideas.

In the end though, the numerical advantage was too much for the Tottenham team, and after valiantly defending for the majority of the second half, the Cherries managed to capitalise in the 91st minute with Ake heading home from a Ryan Fraser corner.

The result places us just four points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, with Spurs recording just one win in the past four league games. Our run of bad form leaves us perilously close to losing a top-four spot to our fiercest rivals, and the boys will be hoping that Arsenal fail to overcome Brighton in tomorrow’s fixture. Spurs have arguably been lucky to hold onto the Champions League places so far, with our bad spell matched almost game for game by Arsenal, who have registered recent defeats against Leicester, Wolves, Palace and Everton. Our fate is in our own hands, though, as whatever the result we can avoid being overtaken by the Gunners with a win against Everton in the final league game on 12th May.

Spurs see red

This was the last thing Pochettino needed before the big Champions league semi-final second leg on Wednesday, and the way in which his team seemingly fell to pieces under the pressure of the situation will be a concern for the Argentine.

Ever since Pochettino’s appointment five years ago, it’s fair to say that Tottenham have transformed their reputation as a ‘soft touch’. This game, however, saw the usually feisty Lilywhites veer into the over-aggressive, and they were lucky not to end the game with eight players.

While it could be argued that he was provoked Son, as a senior player, should have known better than to lash out in frustration, and while Lerma’s reaction certainly didn’t do the Korean any favours, you’d be hard-pushed to find anyone in the ground who disagreed with the decision to send him off. Foyth, on the other hand, was just a bit too eager to please, and more than a touch naive.

The tone for the entire game was set as early as the 11th minute, though, with Dier the first into Craig Pawson’s book following a poor tackle on Ryan Fraser. He could easily have received a second booking just a few minutes later, too, but the referee incorrectly ruled that he had got the ball with a mis-timed lunge on Joshua King as he stopped a Bournemouth counter-attack.

Hugo Lloris was the next to produce a moment of madness, lucky not to concede a penalty as he collided with striker Josh King after the Norwegian had pushed the ball past him. And the Spurs fans had barely had a chance to breathe when Dier had their hearts in their mouths again, this time for booting the back of Callum Wilson’s ankle as he lined up a shot. Again, Bournemouth appealed for a penalty. Again, the referee waved away the protests.

Few could have predicted that it would be Son who would finally push things too far for Spurs, though – the mild-mannered Korean is usually the picture of good behaviour on a football pitch. However he let his frustrations get the better of him when he was adjudged to have fouled Fraser in the 43rd minute, shoving Lerma to the ground in the ensuing melee and ensuring an early bath for himself in the process.

But while Son’s red card had made it difficult for Spurs, Foyth’s shortly after half time made it nigh-on impossible. Brought on in place of Toby Alderweireld at half-time, the Argentine had just three touches before going in studs-up on Simpson in a nasty challenge, leaving Craig Pawson with no choice but to produce another red card. He had been on the pitch for just two minutes and 13 seconds.

Poch’s Verdict

“It is very painful to play with two players less than the opponent”

“We need to move on. We cannot change the decisions. We have ahead two finals against Ajax and Everton. It is in our hands. If it does not happen we will be proud because nobody expected Tottenham to be in the position they are today.

“We are fighting six teams, it is impossible for all six to get the top four, whatever happens I will feel proud and whatever happens in the semi-final I will be proud.”

Bournemouth v Spurs Man of the Match

The teenage keeper showed his raw talent with an accomplished performance, recording 5 saves – of which 4 were top class – ensuring that Spurs didn’t leave the Vitality with a point.

Champions League preparations

Despite being reduced to nine men and not registering a single shot on goal in the second half, it could be argued that Bournemouth didn’t do too much to threaten the Spurs goal. The Cherries seemed unsure as to how to play against nine men, and it looked as though Spurs might hold on for a point before Ake came charging through a scattered penalty area to head what would prove to be the winner.

This is far from ideal preparation for the Ajax game next week, and while he tried to put a brave face on it, Mauricio Pochettino knows that on Wednesday night he needs a team of players who are going to keep their heads when the pressure really ratchets up.

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