Bournemouth vs Tottenham: Mauricio Pochettino refuses to criticise referee after ‘unlucky’ red cards in defeat

Son Heung-min and Juan Foyth were both sent-off in five crazy minutes either side of half-time as Spurs failed to secure their place in the Premier League top four

Jack de Menezes
Saturday 04 May 2019 15:36
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Mauricio Pochettino calls for Tottenham to play like Lionel Messi

Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that his Tottenham side were “unlucky” to see two red card decisions go against them, but refused to criticise referee Craig Pawson after accepting the sending off of Son Heung-min and Juan Foyth in the 1-0 defeat against Bournemouth.

Spurs saw their attempt to cement a top-four finish and Champions League football next season come unstuck as Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake’s injury-time header condemned the North London outfit to a third straight loss.

Pochettino decided against resting his biggest names despite the Champions League semi-final second leg against Ajax looming large in midweek, with Son named in a starting line-up alongside Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Lucas Moura as well as the likes of Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose.

But if that was in hope of securing the three points needed to guarantee a third-place finish, it backfired dramatically in five crazy minutes either side of half-time as first Son was shown a straight red card for violent conduct towards Jefferson Lerma, before half-time replacement Juan Foyth – brought on for Eric Dier due to his first-half booking – was sent-off inside three minutes of the second half for a knee-high lunge on Jack Simpson.

“We have to move on and be better against Ajax on Wednesday,” Pochettino told Sky Sports. “I cannot talk too much, I think everyone saw what happened on the pitch and I think the first 40 minutes we were playing so well, we created a lot of big chances and we didn’t score. Sometimes football is like this and it’s cruel, and we conceded in the last minute, two red cards... it’s very difficult for the team to fight. We made the effort and there’s nothing to say, only disappointment.

“I have nothing to say. I respect the decision of the referee and my opinion is not important. My real and honest opinion is to accept the decision of the referee because now you cannot change what happened.”

Pushed further on the sending off of Foyth, which came just 125 seconds after he came on at half-time, Pochettino admitted that he made the substitution to avoid a possible second booking for Dier, but accepted Pawson’s decision to dismiss him even if privately he disagreed.

“Again, I didn’t see through TV but I need to respect the decision of the referee,” he added. “I can say absolutely nothing, I respect that. It was unlucky for us because first we lose Sonny and then after three minutes (of the second half) we lose Juan. We tried to avoid that because Toby (Alderweireld) and Eric had two yellow cards so we tried to play with Juan with less risk on the pitch.

“It was unlucky for us, but there’s nothing to say. It was massive because after with nine players I think we defended well, we made a very good game of it but it was not enough because in the last minute we conceded.”

Son Heung-min confronts referee Craig Pawson after being sent off (Getty)

Pochettino was also asked on whether Dier was lucky to avoid a second booking for a first-half challenge that went unpunished by Pawson, despite replays showing that the midfielder did not get the ball.

“Look, we’re going to play with 11 players on Wednesday and 11 players on Saturday,” said Pochettino. “For me the team is the most important, not one player who is going to play in front of another.

“I don’t believe that there is going to be a big impact. We go into recovery and get ready for Wednesday.”

Foyth fouls Bournemouth's Jack Simpson resulting in a red card (Reuters)

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe meanwhile expressed his relief in seeing his side score a winner to make the most of their two-man advantage, but added that the side were indebted to debutant goalkeeper Mark Travers, who at 19 years old made a string of first-half saves to keep Spurs at bay.

"It was a strange one because we were indebted to our goalkeeper in the first half to stay in the game,” Howe said.

"I've played against nine men once before at Burnley and we nearly ended up drawing that game. It is really tough because there is no space in behind and they are relying on counter attacks and it's really about your quality.

"We had one moment of quality with the corner and Nathan's header."

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Travers admitted that he was not beset by nerves despite the occasion, keeping a clean sheet on his first Premier League outing. "It was an unbelievable day for me, something that I've worked towards the last few years,” he said/

Pochettino looks on after Son is sent off for Spurs 

"To get the opportunity today was unbelievable, especially against such a top side in Tottenham. And to get the three points as well was unbelievable.

"I found out yesterday morning (that I was playing), the gaffer pulled me in. Surprisingly, there weren't too many (nerves). I felt comfortable out there and enjoyed every minute."

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