Son Heung-Min at the double; Christian Eriksen also shines for Tottenham
Tottenham arrived in Bournemouth aiming to avoid a Champions League hangover, and it initially seemed they were going to fail spectacularly, but they recovered to emerge 4-1 winners.
Junior Stanislas had already hit the crossbar when he gave the Cherries a seventh-minute lead, and Spurs then lost Harry Kane to an ankle injury.
However, Mauricio Pochettino’s side rallied impressively, scoring four unanswered goals. Dele Alli equalised 10 minutes before the break, and Son Heung-Min struck twice in the second half before Serge Aurier added further gloss to the scoreline.
While an injury to Kane is never good, there is an international break coming up so the timing could be worse.
Indeed, the Spurs striker injured the same ankle almost exactly a year ago and he only missed three games because of the pause in the domestic schedule.
Meanwhile, Tottenham have offered strong evidence that they can cope without him. Son moved up front and netted twice, taking his tally to seven goals in four matches, while Alli chipped in with his first strike in 16 games.
The visitors showed character after a difficult start and have strengthened their position in the top four, leapfrogging Liverpool into third place and restoring their five-point lead ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea.
It remains to be seen how serious Kane’s injury is, while Alli and Danny Rose were also unable to finish the match. There are some tired bodies.
This was another poor start to an away match, like against Juventus in Turin, and it is also clear Pochettino has little faith in Fernando Llorente — the Spaniard remained on the bench despite Kane’s injury.
Additionally, Pochettino promised after the trip to Crystal Palace that Serge Aurier would never commit another foul throw, but it happened again on Sunday.
Manager rating out of 10
8 — Pochettino made three changes but resisted the temptation to weaken his side too much, and his respect for Bournemouth was justified. He then made the right call when introducing Erik Lamela in place of Kane, rather than Llorente. The deployment of Christian Eriksen in a deep-lying role was also a key factor in Spurs’ victory.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Hugo Lloris, 6 — Helpless for the opening goal and made a good save to deny Simon Francis in the second half.
DF Serge Aurier, 7 — Largely at fault for Bournemouth’s opener, getting drawn into an aerial battle in front of him and leaving Stanislas unmarked behind him. He also committed another foul throw. Yet he set up the equaliser with a low cross and scored the final goal himself after moving to left-back.
DF Davinson Sanchez, 5 — Often looked uncomfortable, notably when Callum Wilson held him off on the touchline and then turned inside him in the first half. The Colombian was also outmuscled by Wilson in the second half, resulting in a goal, but he was awarded a questionable free kick and the strike was ruled out.
DF Jan Vertonghen, 7 — Got caught upfield a couple of times but organised those around him well and helped to ensure Bournemouth only scored once.
DF Danny Rose, 4 — Looked rusty again. He was beaten too easily by Adam Smith when Bournemouth got their breakthrough, and his crossing was poor throughout. Came off 10 minutes before the end due to fatigue and a knock.
MF Victor Wanyama, 7 — Was overwhelmed early on, losing out in a number of challenges. But, like many of his teammates, he improved markedly and helped Tottenham to get on top.
MF Mousa Dembele, 6 — Started uncharacteristically sloppily but soon found his feet. Not his best game but he did enough.
MF Christian Eriksen, 9 — Dropped into a deep-lying role to help Spurs overcome Bournemouth’s pressing game and pulled the strings intelligently while working very hard off the ball and tracking back diligently. His defensive and offensive qualities combined when he intercepted a pass and freed Son for Tottenham’s third goal.
MF Dele Alli, 8 — Nothing came off for him in the opening stages but he came alive after Kane’s withdrawal, ending his goalscoring drought and then setting up Son’s winning strike.
MF Son Heung-Min, 9 — Moved up front in Kane’s absence and led the line well, playing a key role in the opening goal by freeing Aurier down the right side before scoring twice himself and nearly completing his hat trick.
FW Harry Kane, 6 — Had little time to make an impact before limping off in the 34th minute.
MF Erik Lamela, 7 — Replaced the injured Kane and helped Spurs to take control with his quick passing and driving runs.
DF Kieran Trippier, N/R — Created Aurier’s goal as his measured cross was helped to the far post by a flapping Asmir Begovic.
MF Moussa Sissoko, N/R — Gave Son a chance of a hat trick with a neat through ball.
Ben is ESPN FC’s Tottenham blogger. Follow on Twitter: @BenPearceSpurs.