Burnley deliver title blow to Tottenham as tensions boil over for Mauricio Pochettino

Burnley 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Ashley Barnes' late goal condemned Spurs to an unexpected defeat at Turf Moor after Harry Kane had levelled the score

Mike Whalley
Turf Moor
Saturday 23 February 2019 15:38
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Tensions bubbled over after the final whistle at Turf Moor
Tensions bubbled over after the final whistle at Turf Moor

Tottenham may have been glad to see Harry Kane back, but they will be glad to see the back of Burnley. Kane returned from injury with a goal, yet his team returned from Lancashire with nothing, thanks to Ashley Barnes’ fourth goal in as many matches.

A gripping Premier League match at Turf Moor had something for both international managers present. Kane’s goal, on his comeback from ankle ligament damage, will have pleased England’s Gareth Southgate, while Barnes’ winner gave the watching Austria head coach Franco Foda plenty to think about. Barnes, from Bath, qualifies for Australia through his grandmother.

Kane’s 21st club goal of the season, which came eight minutes after Chris Wood had headed Burnley in front, had more than a hint of controversy in the build-up, as Danny Rose took a quick throw-in five yards further forward from where the ball had gone out of play on the halfway line, allowing the Tottenham defender to clear Ben Mee and send Kane away.

Once he was away, though, there was never any doubt about the finish, steered in at speed past Tom Heaton and in off the post.

Up until then, it had looked as if Heaton might be the winner of the duel with his fellow countryman, having made a flying save to tip a fierce, bending Kane shot around the post moments before Chris Wood headed Burnley in front.

Harry Kane made his Spurs return but it wasn’t enough to save his side from defeat

Despite losing his clean sheet, the Burnley goalkeeper has every chance of joining Kane in Southgate’s next England squad, for next month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

Kane’s entrance was not a loud one; for the first 15 minutes, he was barely noticeable in a Tottenham side who appeared, metaphorically, to be rubbing the sleep from their eyes.

Then came the first warning. Kane picked up possession in the old inside right channel, drifted easily past three Burnley defenders and drilled a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area. The Turf Moor regulars, who had seen him score a hat-trick here last season, shuddered in their seats.

Yet Sean Dyche’s side, unbeaten in seven league matches, did not shirk the challenge of competing with such high-class opponents. Ashley Barnes was involved in an early tangle that left Juan Foyth with a torn shirt, a free-kick awarded against him and a sizeable sense of injustice. Danny Rose was left crumpled on the floor by a robust tackled from Jeff Hendrick.

They offered attacking threat as well as the rough stuff, and it was Hendrick and Barnes who almost undid Tottenham. The Republic of Ireland midfielder won the ball in the corner and crossed low for Barnes to sweep a dipping shot just over the bar with a clever first-time effort.

Mauricio Pochettino angrily confronted Mike Dean after the final whistle

Kane would have two more sights of goal before half-time, showing a touch of rustiness as he just failed to control Christian Eriksen’s sublime angled through pass, and then heading Moussa Sissoko’s cross straight at Heaton.

Then came Heaton’s superb save from Kane. It proved crucial, as seven minutes later, Burnley were in front from a corner that Tottenham felt should not have been awarded, with the officials having judged that Hendrick’s attempted cross had touched Jan Vertonghen last before going out of play.

With that argument still bubbling, Dwight McNeil delivered the set-piece, and Wood rose above Foyth to head in off the underside of the bar. Kane’s cool finishing cancelled out that advantage, but Burnley did not falter.

Instead, they continued to create chances. Hendrick steered just wide after being played in by Ashley Westwood, and McNeil saw a shot shovelled out by Hugo Lloris.

Then came the late twist. Substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson found space down the left and crossed low for Barnes to tap in his fourth goal in four games. It was all too much for Mauricio Pochettino, who confronted Mike Dean at the final whistle, angry at some of the decisions that had gone against his team. Perhaps there was anger too at seeing a title challenge slip away.

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