Pochettino loses cool as Spurs lose ground

Burnley's Ashley Barnes (centre) tapping the ball into the net for their second goal in the 83rd minute to beat Tottenham 2-1. It was a huge blow to Spurs' Premier League title challenge with just 11 games to go.
Burnley's Ashley Barnes (centre) tapping the ball into the net for their second goal in the 83rd minute to beat Tottenham 2-1. It was a huge blow to Spurs' Premier League title challenge with just 11 games to go.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • When the whistle blew for full time yesterday at Turf Moor - and perhaps also signalling the end of Tottenham's Premier League title chase - Mauricio Pochettino lost his cool and confronted referee Mike Dean.

The Spurs manager was presumably arguing that Burnley's corner which led to their first goal should not have been given.

But Dean saw no wrong in the decision and even the return of Harry Kane, after missing seven games through ankle injury, could not save Tottenham as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat.

The loss also meant that Pochettino's men (60 points) remain five points behind leaders Manchester City and Liverpool, who have a game in hand and will leapfrog City should they win or draw at Manchester United today.

Essentially, though, Tottenham's title challenge has suffered a huge blow with just 11 games remaining.

Speaking after the match, Pochettino admitted that Spurs are unlikely to be contenders now.

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"It was an important game, we needed the three points to fight for the Premier League. It is difficult for us to be a contender now," the Argentinian said.

"We made mistakes but we don't deserve the defeat, but that is football. In my mind we needed the three points to put the pressure on.

"We cannot blame anyone other than ourselves, because we were unable to win.

"I am going to accept everything (a likely punishment for confronting Dean) from the FA, but I hope nothing will go further."

Burnley striker Chris Wood opened the scoring in the 57th minute but the home side's lead did not last long. Kane showed no signs of rust and displayed great composure to net Spurs' equaliser just eight minutes later.

Tottenham had stolen late winners in three of their last four league games, but it was Burnley who finished in the ascendancy in the 83rd minute.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson drove into the Spurs area and smashed a shot towards the far post and, with Jan Vertonghen unable to clear, Ashley Barnes tapped into the empty net to seal victory.

"We made it hard for them and that was what the game plan was," said Barnes. "We need to keep being resilient and compact. That's what we did."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 24, 2019, with the headline 'Pochettino loses cool as Spurs lose ground'. Print Edition | Subscribe