Battling Bournemouth denied at Spurs
- Lee Mason
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur side proved too strong in their first home league game of the Portuguese’s reign, defeating AFC Bournemouth 3-2 in north London.
Despite a valiant effort from the Cherries, a brace from Dele Alli, as well as a Moussa Sissoko finish, put Spurs three goals to the good, before Harry Wilson pulled two back through a magnificent free-kick and a smart low finish.
Alli opened the scoring with 20 minutes on the clock, finishing under Aaron Ramsdale from close range, before going on to double the lead with just moments gone in the second half.
Moussa Sissoko then added a third, finishing Heung-Min Son’s inch-perfect cross to give the hosts some breathing space.
Nevertheless, a sublime set-piece from substitute Harry Wilson pulled one back for Eddie Howe’s side, before a strike from ten yards gave the Cherries a lifeline late on.
Jack Stacey came into the starting line-up for his first minutes since the defeat to Arsenal, while Jefferson Lerma replaced the suspended Philip Billing in the centre of midfield. Arnaut Danjuma was also handed a second Premier League start, while Dominic Solanke partnered Callum Wilson up front.
The first chance of the game came just four minutes in, as Lerma won the ball back in the middle of the park. Some lovely build-up play followed, before a shooting opportunity presented itself to Danjuma just outside the area, with Paulo Gazzaniga at full stretch to stop the powerful effort.
The Cherries continued to cause problems for the hosts in the opening stages, as Callum Wilson saw his header from Dominic Solanke’s cross go just over the bar, while Diego Rico’s low shot from 30 yards was convincingly parried away.
It would be Spurs who went on to create the next opening, as a rapid counter-attack saw Alli play one over of the top for Son, who eventually dragged his shot wide after carrying the ball half the length of the pitch.
However, Mourinho’s side did make the most of their next opportunity in front of goal, with Son and Alli combining for the second time in as many minutes.
Another long ball was brought down by the Korean, before it fell perfectly for Alli to finish past the on-rushing Aaron Ramsdale, giving the hosts the lead with 20 minutes gone.
The England under-21s ‘keeper did well to prevent a second finding the corner just shortly after, saving superbly from Harry Kane after a reverse ball had slipped him in.
As the half-hour mark approached, Spurs did indeed have it in the back of the net after Davinson Sanchez’s deflected shot fell for Sissoko to thump it past Ramsdale, only for referee Lee Mason to then rule it out for a handball by the French midfielder.
Up the other end of the pitch, Lerma played a beautiful cross-field ball into the path of Stacey, who went on a darting run, wrong-footed Son and tried his luck against Gazzaniga, but his fizzing shot went inches wide of the right-hand post.
Danjuma then had a go from 18 yards, but it was straight at the Spurs ‘keeper for what was the final action of the first-half.
As play resumed, the Cherries were on the hunt for a leveller and had hope when Solanke broke away with the ball, but his route to goal was blocked thanks to a solid tackle from Toby Alderweireld.
Yet it was up the other end of the pitch that the Belgian centre-back would have an impact next for Spurs, as Alli’s clinical finish added a second for Spurs with just three minutes gone since the re-start.
A long ball from Alderweireld found the feet of the midfielder, who cut in from the left and chipped over Ramsdale from just inside the six-yard box, doubling the hosts’ lead.
Ten minutes later and the 23-year-old had a chance to complete his hat-trick after a Serge Aurier ball from the right evaded everyone and fell to Alli on the edge of the box. He took a touch, lined up a shot, but hit it straight over the bar.
Howe opted to make a change on the hour mark, with Ryan Fraser being replaced by Harry Wilson, who almost had an immediate impact.
Some good build-up play saw the ball teed up for him on the right-hand side of the box, but a curling effort sailed narrowly over Gazzaniga’s bar, with the ‘keeper having felt the need to dive.
With the Cherries beginning to throw men forward, it left opportunities for Mourinho’s side up top and it was Sissoko who capitalised on a brilliant cross from Son to stab the ball home inches out and grant Spurs a third.
As the game looked out of sight, Harry Wilson was on hand to give his side the least they deserved after the referee awarded a free-kick for a push on Lewis Cook 20 yards out.
Up stepped the Wales international to convert flawlessly past Gazzaniga for what was the Cherries’ first ever goal scored away from home at Spurs.
Despite the strike, Ramsdale still had to be alert with Alli determined to take home that match ball. His fingertips denied the England international from the edge of the area after Mourinho’s men had played the ball around nicely to work the shooting opportunity.
The visitors kept knocking on the door, however, as a late chance fell the way of substitute Dan Gosling, who had raced forward from midfield to get on the end of Solanke’s cut-back, but the tame shot was easily blocked by the Spurs defence.
Yet, the Cherries were not to let the same opportunity pass when it presented itself again.
This time, Danjuma sprinted down the left with the ball, took it along the by-line and lifted his head to see Harry Wilson in space on the penalty spot, the 22-year-old making no mistake with his low shot, which beat Gazzaniga again.
It was to be too-little-too-late, despite a final opportunity for Callum Wilson, as a strong block from Jan Vertonghen ensured that Spurs went away with all three points.