February 23, 2019
Perhaps Mauricio Pochettino should have been wary about describing this game as a cup final for his players. Everybody knows Tottenham rarely last long in the cups and defeat by a more determined Burnley should now bring an end to talk of the title run-in turning into a three-horse race.
Burnley’s Ashley Barnes hits Spurs’ title hopes with winner after Kane goal
Spurs did not look much like title contenders here, unable to convert 70% of possession into clear threats on goal and short of inspiration when tasked with breaking down Burnley’s dogged lines of defence. Harry Kane played and scored, but with limited chances the home side finished better and deservedly took the points with goals from Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes.
The game was a bit of a slow-burner, which might have had something to do with the early kick-off but in Tottenham’s case was more likely to have been because of the team bus arriving with only an hour to spare after being delayed in traffic. The visitors spent the first quarter playing themselves into the game at a leisurely pace with Burnley content to let them, though by half-time Tottenham had stepped up their efforts and produced a few half chances. A single speculative shot from Kane was all Spurs managed in the opening half-hour, though it took a good block by Ben Mee to prevent the returning striker putting his side in front when Son Heung-min sent a shot across the face of goal.
Christian Eriksen saw a shot saved then lofted a perfectly weighted pass to pick out Kane’s run into the area, only for the England forward to show too much of the ball to Tom Heaton. It was not all Spurs – Barnes possibly came closest to a first-half goal with a shot that fizzed narrowly over after Jeff Hendrick had got the better of Jan Vertonghen near the right corner flag – yet Burnley ended the half playing on the edge of their own penalty area. They consistently put enough men behind the ball to frustrate the best efforts of Son, Eriksen and Moussa Sissoko to find a way through, though inviting Spurs to come at them seemed a dangerous game.
Burnley’s Ashley Barnes hits Spurs’ title hopes with winner after Kane goal
It still felt that way when Harry Kane opened the second half with one of those languid though deceptively well-struck right-foot curlers from 25 yards that Heaton did well to keep out, yet just before the hour and totally against the run of play Burnley took the lead with a set piece. Dwight McNeil deserved credit for a well flighted corner that allowed Chris Wood to score with his head from the six-yard line, though as the young winger’s stunning turn in the middle of the pitch helped win the corner in the first place he played a considerable part in breaking the deadlock.
Spurs complained that the ball had gone out for the corner off a Burnley player but it was up to them to respond and they did so nine minutes later, when Danny Rose pinched a few yards at a throw-in to give Kane a start on the Burnley defence, allowing the striker to cut into the area from the left and slide a low shot into Heaton’s far corner.
The contest was open and entertaining now, with Juan Foyth and Phil Bardsley both picking up cautions for over-enthusiastic challenges and Hendrick almost restoring Burnley’s lead with a shot that rolled narrowly wide. McNeil saw a shot stopped on the line by Hugo Lloris before increased Burnley pressure finally paid off seven minutes from the end, when the substitute Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson’s hopeful cross-cum-shot reach Barnes at the far post for an easy tap-in.
Spurs still have not drawn a game this season and they could have no complaints about returning home empty-handed from this one. Eriksen had a chance to snatch an equaliser right at the death but he directed his close-range header straight at Heaton.
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