Ten-man Spurs dig deep at the end of a difficult week

Brian Jeeves

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Southampton

TEN-MAN SPURS ended a particularly difficult week with a gritty and precious Premier League victory over a busy Southampton side at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

These are uneasy times at Tottenham. Widespread frustrations amongst management, players and the supporters have surfaced as the Lilywhites struggled to kick on following last seasons Champions League appearance. Indeed, two league victories from six outings, coupled with a shock Carabao Cup exit at League Two Colchester United but confirm that all is not well as performances flounder. All of a sudden, this had become a huge game in the great scheme of all things Tottenham.

Certainly, the atmosphere around the gleaming new stands did not match those surroundings. There was an edgy nervousness, brought about by some 58,000 souls, unsure of which Spurs team would turn up for them.

Saints skipper, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, forced Hugo Lloris to save low to his right, while Sofiane Boufal warmed the Frenchman’s gloves as the south coast side looked to darken the mood further. Meanwhile, Harry Kane lost his footing, and subsequently the opportunity, after Christain Eriksen’s free-kick had been deflected into his path.

Tanguy Ndombele perhaps should have done better after Heung-Min Son scampered down the left and delivered – the South Korean then seeing his flick header turned away by Angus Gunn from the resulting flag-kick. However, when Son supplied Ndombele with a similar chance, the former Lyon man swept, left-footed beyond Gunn – sparking an explosion of delight and relief to equal proportions.

But the joyous nature was soon broken. Serge Aurier clipped Ryan Bertrand – the Spurs man picking up a swift second yellow card having clattered Sofiane Boufal only minutes earlier.

And that wasn’t the end of it. Lloris lost his bearings – and by the looks of things, his marbles – allowing Toby Alderweield’s backpass to squirm away from him, handing Danny Ings with the simplest task of running the ball into an unguarded goal.

Spurs needed an injection of anything as they wobbled hesitantly. But cometh the hour, cometh the man – two minutes before the break Kane swept home after Son and Eriksen had combined down the right.

Lloris made amends for his earlier error, brilliantly turning over a fizzing free-kick from James Ward-Prowse, then produced an even better stop, keeping out Maya Koshida’s goalbound header. Indeed, it was all hands to the Spurs pump as the visitors probed relentlessly looked for a way back into the contest.

It was scruffy stuff. Spurs, unable to produce their trademark flowing game – the Saints, throwing bodies forward, though without any notable shape or structure. Bookings for Yoshida and Jan Bednarek brought about ironic cheers from the North Londoners following who had adopted referee, Graham Scott, as the villain of the piece.

Kane was a whisker away from sealing the deal after bustling his way through, while Lloris continued his rehabilitation, clinging to Hojbjerg’s speculative strike as Southampton’s own fruitless toil continued.

It had been gritty from the home side, but uneasy on the eye. Nevertheless, a win’s a win – Spurs now turn their attention to the UEFA Champions League, facing Bayern Munich at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday, October 1 (8pm). They return to Premier League action on Saturday, October 5 when they take on Brighton & Hove Albion at the AMEX Stadium (12:30pm).

Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Heung-Min Son (Erik Lamela 64’), Harry Winks (Victor Wanyama 90+1’), Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko, Christian Eriksen, Serge Aurier, Tanguy Ndombele (Eric Dier 78’) Subs not used: Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), Dele Alli, Lucas Moura, Ben Davies

Booked: Serge Aurier (foul)
Sent Off: Serge Aurier (foul – second booking)
Goals: Tanguy Ndombele 24’, Harry Kane 43’

Southampton: Angus Gunn, Jannik Vestergaard (Stuart Armstrong 79’), Maya Yoshida, Danny Ings (Michael Obafemi 83’), Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse, Sofiane Boufal (Shane Long 88’), Ryan Bertrand, Nathan Redmond, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Capt), Jan Bednarek Subs not used: Harry Lewis (GK), Kevin Danso, Yan Valery

Booked: Maya Yoshida (foul), Jan Bednarek (foul)
Goals: Danny Ings 39’

Referee: Graham Scott
Assistants: Neil Davies and Derek Eaton
Fourth Official: Darren Bond

Attendance: 59,645

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk