Mauricio Pochettino expressed his disappointment after a late, late goal left our nine men without reward for their efforts at Bournemouth on Saturday.
Nathan Ake’s header in added time clinched a 1-0 win for the home side after Heung-Min Son and Juan Foyth received straight red cards either side of half-time.
Needing a win to clinch a top four place, everything looked to be going to plan for the first 40 minutes as we produced a commanding display at the Vitality Stadium.
Indeed, Bournemouth’s young debutant goalkeeper Mark Travers did enough in that spell to earn the Man of the Match award even though we were down to nine men from the 48th minute.
Travers denied Lucas twice, Dele twice and Christian Eriksen with the pick a tip over from Lucas. Son also broke through only to fire over and Lucas was close to a wonder goal when he spotted Travers off his line from just inside our half and pinged a shot that beat the goalkeeper but landed a yard wide.
But it all changed on 43 minutes when Son was sent off for a shove on Jefferson Lerma.
Down to 10 men, Mauricio reshuffled at half-time, replacing Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier with Foyth and Victor Wanyama, only for Foyth to receive his marching orders for a challenge on Jack Simpson three minutes into the second half.
Our nine men reshuffled again – Victor into the back four – with Dele and Christian trying to support lone striker Lucas.
However, we kept the home side at bay and despite holding the majority of possession, Bournemouth couldn’t break us down. Clear-cut chances were few and far between – Lys Mousset headed straight at Hugo Lloris – but as we ticked into the first minute of added time, Ryan Fraser swung in a corner, Nathan Ake got himself free and headed home from six yards.
Nevertheless, a place in the top four remains in our hands and victory over Everton in our final match at home next Sunday will secure it.
Naturally, Mauricio cut a despondent figure afterwards. “The first 40 minutes until the Sonny’s red card I thought we were so good,” he said.
“After playing the second half with two players less, the Man of the Match was their goalkeeper. If we’d gone to the changing room at half-time 3-0 up that would have been more than fair but that is the problem when you don’t score, situations can change the game.
“I thought we defended well and we tried to go forward but it was difficult with two players less. In that moment you need to make the effort and be all together. It’s not easy.
“We didn’t concede too much and that’s why it’s disappointing to concede a goal in the last minutes. All the players gave a massive effort. It’s cruel, but it can happen and we have to accept it.
“Now we need to move on. We cannot change the decisions, we cannot change the result and we need to be ready for the next game.”