LONDON: Mauricio Pochettino insisted on Saturday that nine-man Tottenham Hotspur won’t let a ‘cruel’ 1-0 defeat at AFC Bournemouth ruin their bid to finish in the top four and reach the Champions League final, while Fulham’s 16-year-old Harvey Elliott become the Premier League’s youngest ever player in their 1-0 defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Tottenham’s South Korea forward Son Heung-min was sent off for a needless push in the closing moments of the first half and Argentine defender Juan Foyth saw red for a studs-up lunge soon after the interval.
Pochettino’s side looked like they would hold on for a point as the match entered stoppage-time, but Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake ended third-placed Tottenham’s stubborn resistance to delay their attempt to guarantee a place in the top four.
A win at Dean Court would have achieved that aim, but fourth-placed Chelsea will now go above Spurs if they defeat Watford and Arsenal, currently fifth, will move to within one point of their north London rivals if they beat Brighton on Sunday.
“Of course it is difficult to get something positive. We made a massive effort,” Pochettino said. “We need to move on. We have ahead two finals. It is in our hands. If it does not happen we will be proud because nobody expected Tottenham to be in the position they are today.”
Tottenham’s ninth defeat in their last 15 games in all competitions means they need to wait for Sunday’s results to see if they need to win their final Premier League game of the season at home to Everton on May 12.
It was the worst possible preparation for their bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the Champions League semi-final second leg at Ajax on Wednesday.
“We are fighting six teams. It’s impossible for all six to get the top four, whatever happens I will feel proud and whatever happens in the semi-final I will be proud,” Pochettino said.
In their first season back in the top-flight, Wolves moved a step closer to sealing an impressive seventh place finish as Leander Dendoncker saw off relegated Fulham.
Belgian midfielder Dendoncker netted in the 75th minute at Molineux to give Wolves a third successive win.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team are four points clear of eighth placed Everton, who only have one game left, and six ahead of ninth placed Leicester, who have two matches remaining.
If Manchester City win the FA Cup final against Watford later on May 18, the team which finishes seventh will go into the Europa League qualifying rounds next season.
In the 88th minute, Fulham provided an historic footnote as Elliott was sent on to become the Premier League’s youngest ever player at 16 years and 30 days.
English midfielder Elliott, born in April 2003, surpassed the previous record set by former Fulham player Matthew Briggs, aged just 16 years and 65 days in 2007.
London-born Elliott’s only previous appearance for Fulham this season came in a League Cup win at Millwall in September.
Marko Arnautovic ended his 11-game goal drought with a brace in West Ham’s 3-0 win against Southampton at the London Stadium.
Arnautovic hadn’t scored for Manuel Pellegrini’s men since January 5, but the Austria forward fired mid-table West Ham ahead in the 16th minute with a clinical finish from Mark Noble’s pass.
Arnautovic struck again in the 69th minute when he headed home after Arthur Masuaka’s cross was palmed into the air by Southampton keeper Fraser Forster.
Hammers defender Ryan Fredericks wrapped up the points in the 72nd minute with his first Premier League goal.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2019