Nine-man Tottenham Hotspur’s bid for Champions League football was rocked on Saturday after Nathan Ake’s last-gasp winner punished red cards for Son Heung-min and Juan Foyth and condemned Spurs to a 1-0 Premier League defeat at Bournemouth.
South Korea forward Son was sent off for a needless push in the closing moments of the first half and Argentine defender Foyth saw red for a studs-up lunge soon after the interval, barely two minutes after entering the field as a half-time substitute.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side looked like they would hold on for a point as the match entered stoppage-time, but Bournemouth defender Ake ended third-placed Tottenham’s stubborn resistence to delay their attempt to guarantee a place in the Premier League’s 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.
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.
Pochettino didn’t rest any of his key players ahead of the trip to Amsterdam, with Son, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Moussa Sissoko and Lucas Moura all starting, although Jan Vertonghen was absent after his head injury in midweek.
Lucas Moura tried to catch out Bournemouth’s teenage keeper Mark Travers with an audacious effort from the halfway line. Travers, making his Premier League debut, was way off his line, but went unpunished as the Tottenham forward’s shot went just wide.
The 19-year-old was fortunate on that occasion, but he proved he had banished any nerves when he dived to his right to save Dele Alli’s long-range strike.
Lucas tried again from more conventional range when the Brazilian burst clear for a shot from the edge of the area that Travers did well to tip over the bar. Shining in his personal duel with Lucas, Travers foiled the Tottenham star for a third time, quickly rushing off his line to save with his legs.
At 19 years and 351 days, Travers, who has already received a Republic of Ireland call-up, was the first teenage goalkeeper to start a Premier League game since Joe Hart in October 2006.
Travers’ last game of senior club football was during his loan spell with non-league Weymouth at Gosport Borough on New Year’s Day 2018 in front of a crowd of just 418. He showed no signs of stage-fright on this much bigger occasion and produced another superb save to keep out Alli’s header.
Tottenham finished the half down to 10 men as Son earned an out-of-character dismissal. Frustrated by a heated battle for possession with Ryan Fraser, Son responded to Jefferson Lerma’s presence by shoving the Bournemouth midfielder to the turf, leaving Craig Pawson no option but to flash the red card.
Tottenham’s disciplinary woes weren’t finished yet and Pochettino was left shell-shocked after his half-time substitute Foyth was the second player to be sent off following an ugly tackle that smashed into Jack Simpson’s leg in the 48th minute.
To Pochettino’s credit, Tottenham reorganised effectively enough to keep Bournemouth at bay until the final minutes. Yet they couldn’t hold out and Ake headed home from Fraser’s corner in the 91st minute.
In a dramatic finale, Tottenham felt they should have had a penalty with the last kick when Alli was bundled over by Wilson, but Pawson ignored their protests.