Rodrigo Bentancur scores stoppage-time winner for Spurs at Bournemouth three days after Harry Kane’s last-gasp winner ruled out for offside by VAR in the Champions League; Antonio Conte on low-key celebration: “I’d have had a heart attack if something happened so I went down the tunnel”
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said he would have had a “heart attack” if Rodrigo Bentancur’s last-gasp winner in their 3-2 comeback win at Bournemouth had been disallowed.
Conte was fuming on Wednesday after Harry Kane’s last-minute goal was ruled out by VAR for offside in the 1-1 home draw against Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League.
Spurs left it late again at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday as substitute Bentancur volleyed home a 92nd-minute winner that did not require VAR to confirm the goal.
However, amid the wild celebrations Conte headed down the tunnel calmly before reappearing for the final few minutes.
Asked about his reaction, the Italian said in his post-match press conference: “I came back when I knew that the goal was regular.
“I thought in my mind and my heart if something happens then I can have a heart attack, because in two days to score and then to be disallowed I said, I go down [the tunnel].
“Then I stayed calm and waited for the decision of the referee.”
Bentancur’s winner completed a stunning second-half fightback for Spurs as they came from two goals down to win at Bournemouth – a victory which the Italian labelled as “nasty”.
“It was great to see the desire of my players, the reaction that they had,” he said. “They are also nasty what they put into the pitch because I have seen in the eyes of my players they decided to win this game.
“When we were drawing 2-2, in our mind the only thought was to take the ball and go and start to play again, and this reaction was really positive and I want this from my players.”
Conte: Win was vital ahead of Marseille ‘final’
Conte celebrates with Rodrigo Bentancur after he scored a last-gasp winner
The victory at Bournemouth was much needed for Conte after Spurs had been winless in their previous three games, including back-to-back Premier League defeats against Manchester United and Newcastle.
Spurs face Marseille away in the Champions League on Tuesday and must at least draw if they are to qualify for the last 16 and Conte believes the win on the south coast can give his side the momentum they need heading to the Stade Velodrome.
“I don’t want to think about my mood if we lose this game [at Bournemouth],” he said.
“This win was vital for us, especially after two losses in the Premier League and this win has to give us enthusiasm, passion to go in Marseille and to play a final, because this game will be a final for us to go to the next round Champions League.
“After the first half, my feeling was positive. The only situation that I asked my players was to show more personality and to take more responsibility because this game is upon us.
“I think in the second half, despite conceding the second goal, we started to play with nasty, with the desire and will to hurt the opponent, and not only to move the ball and to show that we are good, we are so nice, no, but in an effective way and I think that we created many chances to score.”
‘These players lose confidence easily’
Going behind has become an issue recently for Spurs having now conceded the opening goal in each of their last three Premier League games.
Asked about his frustration at their slow starts, the ex-Chelsea boss said: “It’s difficult for me to understand why this situation happens. We started a path with this group of players and in three or four days it will be one year that I’ve stayed in Tottenham and working with this group of players.
“For me, these guys are really good guys and really good players, but sometimes they lose confidence easily.
“I think we have to try to continue to work in this aspect because sometimes it’s frustrating that you work a lot and you try to find a solution to hurt your opponent and sometimes you see your team up and down, up and down.
“I think we had to try to find the stability. I asked my players after the first half to take responsibility and when I speak about the responsibility, to make important decisions on the pitch and not an easy pass.
“For us, I think this is an important step that we have to do and we are working.
“We are a work in progress, but at the same time there is a lot of space for improvement and we have to do this.”