Alexander M Gross
Literature | Language | Culture

By: A M Gross | October 02, 2019

Saturday 28 September, 15:00 hrs

Premier League

The pressure of a difficult week in league and cup was eased by a narrow win over Southampton in which Tottenham Hotspur played for an hour with ten men. After three successive away games - a draw at Olympiakos in the UEFA Champions League and then deafeats to Leicester City and Colchester United in the Premier League and League Cup respectively - Spurs returned home looking to restore pride and optimism around the club. Mauricio Pochettino made just one change to the line-up from the impressive 4-0 win over Crystal Palace here two weeks ago, with record signing Tanguy Ndombele replacing Erik Lamela in midfield. Yet the manager's afternoon was made all the more difficult by Serge Aurier's two quick bookings in the first half, which left the home side to battle out the remaining sixty minutes a man down.

Tottenham looked to be on course for a routine home win after early pressure led to an opening goal from Ndombele on 24 minutes. A typically crafty ball into the penalty area from Christian Eriksen on the right flank was cleared only to Heung-min Son, who laid off for the Frenchman to score his second goal at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium through the flailing arms of goalkeeper Angus Gunn. It was in the immediate aftermath of this goal that Aurier committed his first bookable offence, needlessly sliding in on Sodiane Boufal near the touchline. Just minutes later in the same area of the pitch, Aurier dragged Ryan Bertrand back by the shirt in the desperation of a chase for the ball, and referee Graham Scott duly produced a second yellow card to dismiss the Spurs full back.

Things went from bad to worse for Pochettino and Tottenham still before half-time, when Danny Ings capitalised on an appalling blunder from Hugo Lloris to equalise for Southampton. The Spurs captain had attempted to deceive the incoming forward with a turn on the ball inside his own six-yard area, but instead offered up a gift for Ings to tap into the net. If that ten-minute passage of play which featured Aurier's indiscipline and the carelessness of Lloris was emblematic of Tottenham's last week or so, what followed just before the interval restored faith in the team's potential to some degree.

From a clearance near the byeline by Aurier, Harry Kane won a header near the half-way line and left the ball for the onrushing Son, who combined smartly with Eriksen on the right side while Kane continued to surge towards goal. The ball eventually found its way to the England captain near the penalty spot, and he made no mistake in flicking the ball up for himself to finish on the half volley past a goalkeeper rooted to his spot. Kane's fifth league goal of the season put Spurs back in front and allowed Pochettino during half-time to concentrate on how his team could protect the lead and secure three important points.

The second half was marked by several impressive saves from Lloris as he sought to redeem himself following his earlier mistake. James Ward-Prowse was the first to be denied, when his 30-yard free-kick just before the hour mark was expertly turned over the bar by the Spurs captain. Shortly afterwards Lloris pulled off an even more impressive save, this time from a header at a corner by Maya Yoshida, who had leapt well above Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose at the far post. Perhaps Southampton's best chance to equalise again fell on 70 minutes, when a cross from Boufal eluded Alderweireld and gave Ings a golden opportunity to score, only for the striker to fail to connect with the ball just six yards out. Spurs ultimately were able to resist Southampton pressure with a one-man disadvantage and record an important Premier League win ahead of the visit of FC Bayern in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Lloris; Aurier (OFF 31), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Winks (Wanyama 90), Sissoko, Ndombele (Dier 78), Eriksen; Son, Kane

Goals: Ndombele (24), Ings (39), Kane (43)

Category: Premier League 

Tags: Southampton