After Tottenham lost vital ground in the Premier League title race, Mauricio Pochettino lost his temper as well.
The Tottenham coach angrily squared up to referee Mike Dean after the final whistle of a 2-1 loss at Burnley on Saturday, venting his frustration over a decision that led to the hosts’ opening goal. It was a rare public display of anger from Pochettino, who quickly acknowledged that his emotional outburst was linked to the realization that this loss may have ended Spurs‘ hopes of catching leading duo Liverpool and Manchester City.
“We cannot think now of being a real contender. It is a massive opportunity lost for us. … When you feel so disappointed and upset, you make some mistakes. We made some mistakes on the pitch and I made some mistakes afterwards on the pitch,” Pochettino said. “There were crossed cables inside my brain. It was weird and strange and has not happened before in 10 years. Some stupid things happen and you react.”
Pochettino’s anger stemmed from Chris Wood’s opening goal in the 57th from a disputed corner, with the coach and his Tottenham players arguing that the ball had gone off a Burnley player and it should have been a goal kick.
Pochettino immediately argued with the fourth official after that goal and then squared up to Dean after the final whistle during a heated argument with the veteran referee. Pochettino initially walked away from the exchange but seemed to react angrily to something Dean then said and stormed back, putting his face inches away from the referee’s before Pochettino’s assistant intervened.
Tottenham had been boosted by the early return of Harry Kane from an injury, but even a goal from the England striker wasn’t enough to prevent a damaging loss. Ashley Barnes scored an 83rd-minute winner for Burnley as Tottenham missed the chance to pull within two points of City and Liverpool, which can now go eight points clear of Spurs by beating Manchester United on Sunday.
Kane, playing his first game since injuring his ankle on Jan. 13, showed his usual scoring touch when he netted an equalizer in the 65th, running onto a long throw-in and beating goalkeeper Tom Heaton by poking a low shot inside the far post.
But Barnes restored Burnley’s lead when a shot by Johann Berg Gudmundsson ended up in his path at the back post, leaving the striker with a simple finish.
It was one of only four games in the Premier League on Saturday. Newcastle beat Huddersfield 2-0, while Bournemouth was held to a 1-1 draw by Wolverhampton Wanderers. Later, Leicester hosted Crystal Palace.
PENALTIES AND SPRINKLERS
Bournemouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers settled for a draw in a game that featured three penalties, nine yellow cards and a break in play after the sprinklers went off on the pitch.
Raul Jimenez equalized for Wolves in the 83rd minute from the spot, canceling out a penalty by Joshua King in the 14th. King had a chance to win it for Bournemouth with another penalty, but fired his effort against the post.
The game then had to be halted for a couple of minutes in injury time when the water sprinklers popped out of the ground, soaking the players and the grass.
Bournemouth’s second penalty came after a foul on Ryan Fraser that replays showed happened outside the area, while King had gone down easily to earn the first spot kick after a challenge by Joao Moutinho. Wolves’ penalty came after Matt Doherty was adjudged to have been bundled over in the area.
Newcastle boosted its hopes of staying in the Premier League by beating 10-man Huddersfield, leaving the visitors stranded in last place and inching ever closer to relegation.
After Tom Smith was sent off for a studs-up tackle in the 20th minute, Newcastle took full advantage after the halftime break as Salomon Rondon put the hosts ahead in the 46th and Ayoze Perez doubled the advantage in the 52nd.
The win lifts Rafa Benitez’s side into 14th place, four points ahead of 18th-placed Southampton ahead of its game at Arsenal on Sunday.
Huddersfield is last with 11 points, 14 points from safety with 11 games to go.