Son leads the charge as Tottenham bounce back from Juventus defeat to seal victory over Bournemouth
Three points for Spurs ensures a climb up to third in the Premier League table but the injury to striker Harry Kane will be a cause for concern
Tottenham Hotspur could savour their spirit and enjoy a role reversal that highlighted their resourcefulness.
A side that lost a lead against Juventus on Tuesday staged a stunning comeback to seize victory against Bournemouth and restore their five-point advantage over Chelsea in the scramble for top-four finishes.
If Giorgio Chiellini felt Spurs lacked mental toughness when they succumbed to the Italian champions, they certainly displayed it in Dorset.
And yet what ought to be an uplifting occasion could yet come at a cost. Expelled from the Uefa Champions League on Tuesday, their participation in next season’s competition felt cast into doubt. While their supporting cast excelled, the usual protagonist made an abrupt departure.
Harry Kane exited, perhaps until the latter half of April. The initial verdict was that the striker suffered possible ankle ligament damage; one such injury sidelined him for almost four weeks last season, another for seven.
Typically, Kane was hurt putting the ball in the back of the net, even his goal was chalked off when he met Christian Eriksen’s lovely pass and Asmir Begovic caught him. Quite apart from the potential suffering for his team, this may end his chances of winning the Golden Boot for a third successive season.
If Tottenham feared the worst, it is to their credit they showed no signs of feeling sorry for themselves. They were trailing when Kane was substituted and levelled a minute later. It was quite a response to adversity and a fine way of illustrating they are far from a one-man team. They lost their talisman and others assumed his mantle.
Dele Alli ended his longest goal drought, a 15-game barren spell, by converting Serge Aurier’s cross. Heung-Min Son offered further proof of his ability to compensate when Kane is absent, brace taking his tally to seven goals in four games.
The rejuvenated Alli picked out the South Korean to put Spurs ahead. He was fractionally offside and scuffed his shot and then sprinted on to Eriksen’s pass to stroll around Begovic and score the third.
Tellingly, Mauricio Pochettino had moved Son into the striking role when Kane went off. Rather than bringing on the specialist striker Fernando Llorente, he opted for the winger Erik Lamela, who was influential.
Eriksen also flourished, twice testing Begovic with shots from distance. The attacking, enterprising football offered reminders of much of what is admirable in Pochettino’s side. They were rewarded with a fourth goal from Aurier when Begovic spilled Kieran Trippier’s cross.
It was arguably all the more impressive after Spurs started shambolically. They were caught on the counter-attack in the fourth minute, with Davinson Sanchez left isolated against two attackers. Lys Mousset committed the defender and squared the ball unselfishly. Junior Stanislas chipped the advancing Hugo Lloris, but saw his shot bounce back off the bar.
Defensive disorganisation cost Tottenham three minutes later when Stanislas’ finish was altogether more accurate. He angled in a shot after Adam Smith’s deep cross reached him, with Aurier lured infield.
Bournemouth’s later threat came in the unlikely shape of Simon Francis, who has never scored a Premier League goal and, more predictably, Callum Wilson, who had an equaliser chalked off.
They have never beaten Spurs in the top flight and their habit of losing leads continued. So Tottenham maintained the division’s only unbeaten record in 2018. But, with Danny Rose and Alli also hobbling off, perhaps the damage will only become clear later.
Updated: March 11, 2018 10:12 PM