The newly promoted side were on course for a win at third-placed Tottenham Hotspur before squandering a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
Just eight minutes after Kieffer Moore completed his brace to double the visitors’ lead, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s through ball cut through the Bournemouth defense too easily to allow Ryan Sessegnon to start Spurs’ comeback.
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Before Cook returns to LS11 to face Jesse Marsch’s Leeds on Saturday, the Thorp Arch academy graduate explained that Bournemouth must improve to stay on their toes to thrive in the top flight.
“A real marker in the game, the (Spurs first goal) – the thing is if you go off for a moment in this league you get punished.
“It’s an incredible league, and we all know it. We know we have some things to fine tune.
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 8: Lewis Cook of Bournemouth controls the ball during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Leicester City at Vitality Stadium on October 8, 2022 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
“It’s really hard to take, to be honest. I felt we worked hard enough to get the win. Against a top team you get penalized.”
The game had similarities to the Whites’ 2-1 win at Liverpool; after leading top-table opposition, both Leeds and the Cherries conceded more than 20 chances, only thanks to shot-stopper Illan Meslier, who kept a whopping nine efforts on goal, Leeds were able to escape the Bournemouth destination.
After the visit of Spurs exposed their defensive frailties, Cook claims his side are ready for the challenge at Elland Road.
“I think it was hard to take, especially for the forwards,” said Cook, who was born in York.
LEEDS, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 17: Lewis Cook of Leeds United FC controls the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Elland Road on October 17, 2015 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Daniel Smith/Getty Images)
“I felt we let them down a bit in some ways, with them scoring the goals and working incredibly hard.
“But we are a team and we stick together no matter what. We put it to bed and focus on next week.”
Caretaker Cherries manager Gary O’Neill was impressed that his side held their own against a superior side and highlighted the difference in the depth of the respective club’s squads.
“We lost a game against Tottenham, which is never an embarrassment for us,” said O’Neill.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 29: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool tackles Tyler Adams of Leeds United during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United at Anfield on October 29, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
“There is a great gulf between the two sides. That is known to everyone.
“Did it look like that for a lot of today? No. I thought for a lot of today we managed to close that gap and we managed to be very competitive against a top team.
“When they bring Lucas Moura, [Ivan] Perisic, Bryan Gil, Bentancur and keep bringing world class players off the bench, I think it can be tricky.
“Guys get tired. So they keep bringing in really good players.”
United set a season record for the longest distance by a Premier League team on Saturday, covering more than 120km on their way to spoiling the Reds’ bid to extend their unbeaten run to house up to 30 matches.
After the game, White midfielder Tyler Adams made sure to praise the efforts of those who came off the bench.
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 29: AFC Bournemouth players look down after Tottenham Hotspur’s Rodrigo Bentancur (not pictured) scores his side’s third goal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
“Everybody played the best game they could,” Adams said.
“I don’t know how many substitutions we made, but 14 or 15 good individual performances tonight to put it all together.”
One such substitute was 18-year-old debutant Wilfried Gnonto, who, after signing on the final day of the August transfer window, helped score United’s memorable late winner on his first appearance senior