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Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that South Korea’s elimination from the AFC Asian Cup was a relief after Son Heung-min helped the Lilywhites to complete a fantastic comeback win over Watford on Wednesday night.
Son scored the 80th-minute equaliser to cancel out Craig Cathcart’s first-half headed goal before Fernando Llorente headed in the winner three minutes from time.
The South Korean was catapulted straight into the starting eleven against Watford following a hectic time in the Asia Cup and Pochettino revealed that it wasn’t his plan to play him for the entire 90 minutes.
Nevertheless, the manager was very happy with the level of commitment that Son showed on the pitch despite coming back fatigued from international duty.
“Of course he was disappointed to lose the quarterfinal against Qatar — he wanted to deliver his best for his country and win the Asian Cup,” said Pochettino. “But in the same time I need to be honest — I’m happy he’s back because he’s helping us to try and win, and that is so important.
“For me, it was too much [effort for him]. It wasn’t the plan to play with him for the full 90 minutes but how the result was, you know at that moment I talked with Jesus [Perez] and I said, ‘Maybe we need to take a little bit of a risk to keep him playing.’
“He finished very tired, with some cramp. We’re going to see if he can recover for the next game. If he’s ok maybe he’s going to be in the starting XI — if not, on the bench. For sure if we need him, he’s going to help the team. That’s one circumstance more [that we need to deal with].
“It was an amazing effort, a great goal. He showed energy and I’m so happy with his performance, but happier because he showed massive commitment with the team.”