LONDON – 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 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 his outburst was linked to the realization that defeat 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,” 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 goal in the 57th from a disputed corner, with the coach and his Tottenham players arguing the ball had gone off a Burnley player and it should have been a goal kick.
Pochettino immediately argued with the fourth official and then squared up to Dean after the final whistle. The Spurs coach initially walked away but seemed to react angrily to something Dean 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 defeat. 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 equalized in the 65th, running onto a long throw and 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 and Crystal Palace beat Leicester 4-1.