Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino hailed his side’s “perfect response” to their Champions League upset after they came from behind at Bournemouth to go third in the Premier League.
Spurs, who lost Harry Kane to a first-half ankle injury, recovered from their last-16 defeat by Juventus on Wednesday, to win convincingly through Son Heung-min’s double and Serge Aurier’s late far-post header.
Dele Alli had earlier levelled for the visitors after Junior Stanislas gave Bournemouth a seventh-minute lead.
“The answer today was perfect after Wednesday,” said the Spurs boss. “I am so pleased – the reaction was important for the team.
“They [Bournemouth] played at a high tempo which was difficult. We conceded an early goal but it was a massive three points for us.
“There is still a lot of work to do, still a lot of things can happen with eight games to go. Big sides are fighting with us to take a position in the top four.”
Bournemouth, who remain 12th, thought they had rescued a point via Callum Wilson’s 84th-minute strike but referee Mike Dean disallowed it for a shove on Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez, before the visitors scored their two late goals.
Alli gave Tottenham fans a scare when he was replaced late on, as did left-back Danny Rose, who was making his first top-flight appearance of the year, but both were fatigued rather than injured.
It was Pochettino’s 150th league win as a manager but a rare recent defeat for his counterpart Eddie Howe, whose side had been beaten just once in their past 10 league fixtures – only Tottenham losing fewer in that period.
History repeating itself for Kane
But for the assistant referee’s flag, the 29th minute of the game might have provided the moment that Kane netted his 36th goal, to make 2017-18 his highest scoring season.
Instead, the England striker picked up an injury that becomes a major concern, and raises an unusual set of parallels.
The setback comes only a day short of a year since he last injured his right ankle, during last season’s FA Cup quarter-final win over Millwall on 12 March. He was subsequently out for four weeks.
It will mean he is likely to miss Spurs’ game next Saturday – an FA Cup quarter-final at Swansea.
It is the third time the England striker has injured the same ankle, previously damaging it against Sunderland in September 2016.
Pochettino must hope the resilient Kane, who has made 38 appearances in all competitions for Spurs this season, can shake it off quickly.
Spurs mentally strong
The visitors were second-best for large parts of the first half-an-hour, with a confident Bournemouth pressing them hard.
Manager Howe had demanded a fast start from his men and only four minutes had gone when Lys Mousset charged forward and played in Stanislas, who saw his shot come back off the bar.
Three minutes later, Adam Smith whipped in a precision cross, Sanchez missed a clearing header and Stanislas finished smartly into the bottom corner. It was Bournemouth’s first goal against Spurs in seven hours and 36 minutes, a run stretching back to October 2015.
Given the hangover from their Champions League defeat, Tottenham could have folded.
But they kept going, even after Kane had limped off, and eventually asserted their superiority.
Son is having a marvellous campaign, which has brought him 18 goals so far, and Kane’s absence allowed the South Korean to shine centrally.
His intelligent movement and reliability have been a huge plus for the Londoners and so it was again here.
If his first was an imperfect finish, volleying the ball into the turf before it spun over Begovic, his second was coolness personified.
Spurs caught Bournemouth on the break and he sprinted forward, rounded the keeper and slotted in.
Scoreline harsh on Cherries
Such a bright start will have given Howe’s men genuine hope they could beat Tottenham in the league for the first time.
They were first to everything as Spurs slumbered, and Howe’s decision to start Mousset, 22, ahead of Joshua King looked a shrewd one as he made several powerful surges.
But after deservedly going ahead, and seeing Kane exit, Bournemouth stalled – so much so that they did not have a shot on target for 26 minutes.
The Cherries can point to some decisions that might have gone either way – Wilson’s shove on Sanchez, which saw his goal ruled out, was minor.
The impressive Simon Francis brought a fine save from Hugo Lloris, and Howe said afterwards he was pleased with their efforts overall.
They still need two more wins to feel safe from the drop, but if they can replicate this start against rock-bottom West Brom, they can get the ball rolling.
Man of the match – Son Heung-min (Tottenham)
Bournemouth lack staying power- the stats
- Bournemouth have lost 19 points from leading positions this season; only West Brom (21) have dropped more after taking the lead in the Premier League.
- Eddie Howe’s have failed to beat Tottenham in six Premier League meetings (D1 L5). Only against Manchester City (no points) have they picked up fewer points in the competition since they joined.
- Indeed, the Cherries have conceded 17 goals in six Premier League games against Spurs – only Manchester City have netted more against them in the top flight (21).
- Tottenham are unbeaten in their past 12 Premier League games (W9 D3) – only once before have they been on a longer run without a defeat in the competition (14 games, ending in December 2015).
- Dele Alli has scored 10 or more goals in all competitions in each of his three seasons with Spurs (42 goals in total).
- Alli has struck in 30 Premier League games and is yet to end on the losing side in those matches (W24 D6 L0), with only three players scoring in more without losing – James Milner (47), Darius Vassell (46) and Salomon Kalou (32).
- Son Heung-min has scored seven goals in his last four games in all competitions, as many as in his previous 22 matches.
- This was Mauricio Pochettino’s 144th Premier League game in charge of Tottenham – no manager has taken charge of more in the competition for the club (level with Harry Redknapp).
- Indeed, this was Pochettino’s 150th league win as a manager, 82 of which have come with current club Tottenham (55%).
Son was fantastic – what they said
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, speaking to BBC Sport: “It was a fantastic performance today from Son Heung-min. Football is about the squad, not only about the 11 players who play. In 10 months of competition, everyone is an important part of the project and fighting for the same objective.”
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, speaking to BBC Sport: “It was a difficult one for us because we started the game so well. We gave them problems with the pace and physicality of the front two but of course they have quality to hurt you and they did that.
“I thought we gave a good account of ourselves for 80 minutes of the match. We worked Tottenham to the limit and had them at their best to beat us.
“I can’t fault the effort of the players; they left everything on the pitch for us.
“We have work to do. We have eight games to go and none of those bigger than next week [at home to West Brom], when we need the crowd behind us.”
Bournemouth host West Brom on Saturday 17 March (15:00 GMT), while Spurs travel to Swansea on the same day for their FA Cup quarter-final tie (12:15 GMT).