Son Heung-min scored a late penalty to seal Southampton’s 16th defeat of the Premier League season.
After the South Coast side’s season came essentially to an end with a disappointing FA Cup Semi-Final defeat at Wembley last weekend, the Saints were hoping to bounce back with an admittedly tough test against Tottenham Hotspur. Ralph Hasenhuttl made five changes to the team, with Alex McCarthy, Theo Walcott and Che Adams the most notable starters returning to the 11. Mohamed Salisu and Nathan Tella also started for a Southampton side looking for only their third away win since December 7th.
Southampton came firing from the off, forcing Hugo Lloris into an early double save. Firstly, Tella’s cross into the area found the head of Salisu which forced a brilliant save from the Frenchman, but not before he has to recover well and make a second to get rid of the rebound from Adams. Moments later, Kyle Walker-Peters was played through against his former side as once again Lloris made a good save to stop the Englishman’s shot at goal.
The pressure was mounting and eventually paid off for the visitors who took the lead after half an hour; a well-drilled set-piece routine saw James Ward-Prowse’s ball meet the head of Danny Ings who finished well to give his side a deserved lead.
Then a flurry of chances followed, mainly for the visitors: Danny Ings, Theo Walcott and Stuart Armstrong all with opportunities to put the game out of the hosts’ reach, but to no avail. A late chance in the first half for Spurs saw Son cut the ball back towards Lucas Moura who, from about seven yards, fired over the bar.
A link-up between on-loan winger Gareth Bale and Son but Jan Bednarek’s smart block stopped the hosts from getting back into it.
Danny Ings’ game was very shortly over, as he pulled up with yet another injury. In a season where his inconsistency has seen the Saints slip down the table, it was not a sight Hasenhuttl would have liked to see.
And lo and behold, very shortly Tottenham were back in the game. Bale responds to a rebound from Lucas Moura’s shot, with a fantastic curl into McCarthy’s net.
Giovanni Lo Celso’s cut-back on the hour mark found Son in a rapid attack on the Saints goal, and Son smashed the ball home for Tottenham’s second. However, as Moura was seen to be blocking the view of McCarthy, he was deemed offside and thus the goal was ruled out by VAR.
Moussa Djenepo’s poorly timed challenge on Sergio Reguilon saw him go into the book and, after a lengthy VAR call, a penalty was awarded with just a minute left of normal time for the hosts. A well-dispatched penalty from Son meant that the hosts had completed the comeback and with six minutes added on, there was very little energy or spirit left in Southampton’s side to come back fighting for an equaliser.
It was a tale of two very different sides: on the one hand, Ryan Mason – the youngest manager in Premier League history – had just won his first game and his side are now well prepared for the Carabao Cup final on Sunday against Manchester City. Meanwhile for Southampton, it was defeat number 16 of the Premier League season. They need six points from their final five league games to guarantee safety and on the surface, this doesn’t seem too difficult. However, looking at the Saints’ form – and the fact that these five games are against high-flying Leicester, European hopefuls Liverpool and West Ham, Fulham – who will be desperate to survive – and attacking side Leeds, it won’t be an easy ride to get those six points.
The Saints host Leicester on Friday 30th April; whilst these games might seem like dead-rubbers, they will prove vital if they are to show some passion and drive to stay in this division come the end of the season.
FT: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 SOUTHAMPTON (Bale 60′, Son 90′ (pen)) (Ings 30′)
Tottenham: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier (booked), Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Ndombele (booked) (Winks 73′), Lo Celso (Lamela 79′), Moura, Bale (Bergwijn 83′), Son. Unused Subs: Hart, Sanchez, Sissoko, Alli, Tanganga, Vinicius.
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Salisu, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Tella (Redmond 84′), Walcott (Djenepo 67′ (booked)), Adams, Ings (Diallo 57′). Unused Subs: Forster, Stephens, Minamino, N’Lundulu, Ferry, Jankewitz.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
Referee: David Coote.