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Son Heung-min helps Spurs battle past in-form Bournemouth to end year on high

Son Heung-min celebrates scoring in Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth (John Walton/PA)
Son Heung-min celebrates scoring in Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth (John Walton/PA)

Son Heung-min grabbed his 12th goal of the season to help Tottenham to an entertaining 3-1 home victory over Bournemouth.

It earned Spurs a fourth win in five Premier League matches, but this was far from comfortable against Andoni Iraola’s in-form side.

Pape Sarr opened the scoring for Tottenham in the ninth minute, but left the pitch in tears with an injury to put his Africa Cup of Nations participation in doubt and Ange Postecoglou’s men had to wait until the 71st minute for a second.

Son doubled the hosts’ advantage ahead of Asian Cup duty with South Korea next month and Richarlison scored his fifth goal in as many matches before Alex Scott hit a late consolation for the Cherries.

This result coupled with Arsenal’s loss at Fulham means fifth-placed Tottenham are only a point behind their rivals going into 2024.

Spurs were eager to respond after being blown away by Brighton on Thursday and received a timely injury boost with Rodrigo Bentancur fit enough to start.

It was a month ahead of schedule and much-needed for Spurs boss Postecoglou.

Tottenham Hotspur v Bournemouth – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Pape Sarr (centre) celebrates scoring the opening goal of the game (John Walton/PA)

While all eyes were on how Son would sign off, it was Senegal midfielder Sarr who grabbed the opener with his second goal for Tottenham.

Bentancur nipped in quickly in midfield before Giovani Lo Celso beat Lewis Cook, which opened up space for Sarr and he rifled into the bottom corner from 18 yards.

It was a great start for the hosts, but they were intent on trying to walk in a second goal until makeshift centre-back Emerson Royal tried his luck and had a piledriver parried away by Neto.

Neto was called into action again midway through the half when Richarlison sent Son away, the Tottenham captain seeing his low effort saved.

Tottenham Hotspur v Bournemouth – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Pape Sarr leaves the pitch after picking up an injury (John Walton/PA)

Bournemouth, chasing a seventh win in eight matches, started to gain the upper hand on proceedings after and Postecoglou was forced into an early change when goalscorer Sarr went down with a muscle injury.

Sarr left the pitch in tears as Dominic Solanke and Luis Sinisterra squandered decent headed opportunities for the visitors.

A Marcus Tavernier free-kick was diverted wide by Richarlison on the stroke of half-time before Solanke hit the crossbar after Ben Davies’ deflected his shot onto the woodwork as Spurs held a slender lead at the break.

Iraola’s team remained on the front foot and Guglielmo Vicario had to claw away Solanke’s header as the heavens opened in north London.

Tottenham Hotspur v Bournemouth – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke (left) attempts a shot on goal (John Walton/PA)

Richarlison should have made it 2-0 with 52 minutes played when Son sent him away, but the Brazilian attacker scuffed wide.

It was a rare venture forward for Tottenham, who were fortunate again on the hour mark when Solanke flashed wide from close range.

Bentancur had been replaced by this point, but the crucial second goal arrived for the hosts with 19 minutes left.

Lo Celso was the architect with a superb through ball with the outside of his boot and Son found the bottom corner.

Postecoglou could breath a sigh of relief and Richarlison made the points safe 10 minutes from time when he swept home Brennan Johnson’s cross in a carbon copy of his goal against Everton.

Substitute Scott pulled one back from Bournemouth in the 84th minute after Tavernier’s cutback, before Postecoglou was booked after exchanging words with Iraola’s backroom staff amid an injury to Alejo Veliz but Tottenham ended the year on a high.