London (AFP) – Tottenham forward Son Heung-min insisted he “accepted” Antonio Conte’s decision to substitute him in Thursday’s crucial 3-0 win over Arsenal despite his angry reaction to the decision.
Son scored Tottenham’s third goal early in the second half as Conte’s side demolished their north London rivals to reignite their hopes of a top four finish in the Premier League.
With Son chasing Mohamed Salah in the race to finish as the Premier League’s top scorer, the South Korean appeared frustrated when he was replaced in the 72nd minute.
Son, who also won the penalty converted by Harry Kane for Tottenham’s opener, is on 21 top-flight goals and Liverpool star Salah has 22.
Conte was clearly trying to keep Son fresh for Sunday’s game against Burnley with 10-man Arsenal having no hope of a comeback after Rob Holding’s first half dismissal.
But Son gesticulated angrily as he trudged off the pitch and had to be spoken by a member of Conte’s coaching staff on the bench before he calmed down.
Conte embraced Son with a hug on the pitch during the post-match celebrations and the forward was willing to move on from the row.
“Obviously I want to play always but what can I say? I have to accept it,” Son told Sky Sports.
“We have a game on Sunday so that’s why. I am not angry just disappointed. I have to move on.
“I wanted to keep playing. We have an important game so I need to be ready, recover well and be fresh again.”
Despite that controversy, Son was delighted to play a key role as fifth-placed Tottenham moved within one point of fourth-placed Arsenal.
With two games left for both teams, the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League is going down to the wire.
“It’s always good to win but especially this derby. It means a lot. We can close the gap. This game really, really feels nice,” Son said.
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