Report by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20) at Vitality Stadium
Nathan Ake’s last-gasp header secured victory for AFC Bournemouth against a top-four chasing Tottenham side reduced to nine men.
In an action-packed encounter at Vitality Stadium, the London outfit largely dominated the first-half, but were repelled on multiple occasions by an inspired display from debutant goalkeeper Mark Travers.
But the complexion of the clash changed on the stroke of the interval, after South Korean international Son Heung-min was dismissed for an off the ball incident.
Substitute Juan Foyth was also shown a red card just minutes after the restart, and Cherries soon emerged as the stronger side. But the hosts were forced to wait beyond 90 minutes to break the stalemate, with Ake scrambling home the dramatic late winner.
The late victory was Cherries’ first against Tottenham in the top flight, coming after seven previous unsuccessful attempts.
Boss Eddie Howe made four changes to the side that was fielded in the scintillating 3-3 draw with south coast neighbours Southampton last weekend.
A surprise start was handed to 19-year-old goalkeeper Travers – making the Irishman the youngest teenage shot stopper to start in the top flight since Joe Hart in 2006. Artur Boruc was forced to settle for a spot amongst the substitutes instead.
Jordon Ibe, Adam Smith and Ryan Fraser were also fielded from the off, with Chris Mepham dropping to the bench. David Brooks and Dan Gosling missed out on the matchday squad altogether through injury.
The visitors appeared determined to mathematically secure themselves a Champions League spot for next season, with manager Mauricio Pochettino recalling Eric Dier, Moussa Sissoko and star frontman Son after the London side’s 1-0 defeat in their Champions League semi-final first leg.
And with the London side firmly in the chase for European qualification, Tottenham’s front three relentlessly pressured Cherries’ backline in the opening stages.
On seven minutes, the effective press almost paid dividends. Nathaniel Clyne’s wayward pass on the edge of the penalty area almost released Son on goal, before Cherries skipper Steve Cook timed an interception to perfection to scramble clear.
But just a minute later, the visitors came even closer to opening the scoring with a spectacular attempt. Lucas Moura collected possession narrowly beyond the half-way line and, with a quick glance at Cherries’ goal, opted to loft an ambitious effort which agonisingly dropped inches wide of Travers’ left-hand upright.
The hosts managed to piece together a move deep inside Tottenham’s territory soon after, which resulted in Fraser being felled 25 yards from goal. The Scot then took matters into his own hands, but bent the set-piece wide of the target.
Despite the tender age of Cherries’ debutant goalkeeper, Travers soon became the star of the show. Dele Alli drifted infield and chanced his arm from distance, with the strike looking set to nestle emphatically into the far corner. However, Travers plunged low to his right to tip the ball around the post.
Moura was the next Tottenham attacker to test the Irish shot stopper. The Brazilian’s goalbound effort was unleashed with an abundance of power, forcing Travers to acrobatically palm over the top.
The former Paris Saint-Germain winger was afforded more time and space on 26 minutes after a floated ball over the Cherries’ backline, but the resultant shot lacked power and Travers’ intervention with his legs at the near post was slightly more comfortable.
Tottenham again threatened twice in quick succession around the half-hour mark. A rapid breakaway saw Son played through into the penalty area, but the Korean’s full-blooded drive flashed over the crossbar. Then, a whipped cross into the box deceived Cherries’ centre-halves, allowing Alli a free header at goal. The ball looked set to drop beyond Travers, but again the debutant was on hand to preserve the stalemate in breathtaking fashion.
A rare foray forward from the hosts on 38 minutes then forced Travers’ opposite number Hugo Lloris into action. A pinpoint through-ball released Josh King into the box, but as the Norwegian looked to skip past the French international, Lloris appeared to do just enough to smuggle the ball behind.
As the interval approached, the visitors were controversially reduced to ten men, and could have had their ranks reduced even further. An altercation off the ball between Jefferson Lerma and Son sparked a flashpoint, with the latter shoving the Colombian midfielder to the turf. Referee Craig Pawson had no hesitation in producing a straight red card.
Dier was also fortunate to remain on the field until his half-time substitution. A sliding challenge on King in the centre of midfield incensed the home crowd, but Pawson remained unmoved. Then, minutes later, Dier swiped at the ankles of Callum Wilson but made no contact with the ball, before being surprisingly allowed to survive until his withdrawal at the break.
With the clash firmly in the balance, Spurs boss Pochettino opted for a double change – introducing Victor Wanyama and Foyth in place of Dier and the cautioned Toby Alderweireld.
But just two minutes later, Foyth was also brandished a straight red in another moment of madness. The substitute attempted to lead a charge into the Bournemouth half, but instead inadvertently gifted Jack Simpson the chance to seize possession. The Argentine flew into the challenge, thundered into the centre-half’s knee, and promptly suffered a similar fate to Son.
With the visitors reduced to nine men, the momentum shifted in Cherries’ favour. On 55 minutes, the livewire Fraser danced infield from the left touchline, but the Scot’s following effort lacked power and was gathered with ease by Lloris.
The home side were again teased with a reward on the counter soon after. Ibe dictated the flight of a ball forward towards Fraser, who in turn picked out Wilson on the left flank. The England international drifted inside and unleashed a bending effort, which deflected wide of the target and behind for a corner kick.
Fraser seized upon set-piece duties once again, although the Scot’s delivery was cleared as far as Smith, whose effort from the edge of the box was neither on target nor handsome.
The Scottish international appeared integral to every Cherries offensive, and once again a cross from the right side was unerring, although Wilson could only nod wide of the far post.
A flurry of further chances fell the home side’s way, although none were able to break the deadlock. First, Ibe forced Lloris into a sprawling stop on 73 minutes with a powerful drive from distance, before Wilson directed Fraser’s low ball wide of the near post from a tight angle.
Lys Mousset was then introduced in place of Ibe, and the Frenchman soon came close to poaching a late opener with a close-range header that tested Lloris’ handling.
And finally, as the clock ticked beyond 90 minutes, and it appeared both sides would have to settle for a share of the spoils, Cherries carved out a late, late winner. Another delicious delivery from Fraser dropped towards Ake, who made no mistake in burying a header beyond Lloris and into the bottom-right corner.
Bournemouth: Travers (GK), Clyne, Cook, Simpson, Smith, Ibe (Mousset, 76), Ake, Lerma, Fraser, King, Wilson
Unused substitutes: Boruc (GK), Hyndman, Taylor, Mepham, Surridge, Ofoborh