WEDNESDAY 21ST APRIL, 2021
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0) SOUTHAMPTON (1)
Son, 90 (pen)
Referee:- David Coote
Assistants:- Adam Nunn, Nick Hopton
Fourth official:- Darren England
VAR:- Jonathan Moss
Assistant VAR:- Marc Perry.
Spurs (4-2-1-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Ndombele (sub Winks, 73); Lo Celso (sub Lamela, 79); Bale (sub Bergwijn, 83), Lucas Moura, Son
Subs not used:- Hart; Tanganga, Sanchez; Sissoko, Dele; Vinicius
Booked:- Ndombele (foul on Adams), Dier (Time wasting)
Southampton (4-4-2):- McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Salisu; Walcott (sub Djenepo, 67), Ward-Prowse (Capt.), Armstrong, Tella (sub Redmond, 84); Ings (sub Diallo, 57), Adams
Subs not used:- Forster; Stephens; Ferry, Jankewitz; N’Lundulu, Minamino
Booked:- Djenepo (foul on Reguilon)
Not so super Spurs, but nice start for Ryan Mason
On Monday and Tuesday this week, so-called “Big Six” sides have been held by “ordinary” Premier League teams. For too long tonight it looked as if Spurs might lose to Southampton whose 2021 league form is the worst of all Premier league teams. The beaten FA Cup semi-finalists played with high energy in the first half, often attacking the Spurs player on the ball with two or three players. Spurs struggled to find rhythm and their midfield did not assert themselves. The goals came at half-hour intervals as Southampton deservedly took the lead through Danny Ings, before a classy goal by Gareth Bale levelled the scores and finally Heung-min Son won the game with a penalty. Son thought he had scored a good goal in the 74th minute, but this was disallowed by VAR. Spurs were the beneficiaries of VAR for their winner though when a foul on the very edge of the area was upgraded after review to a penalty.
Interim coach Ryan Mason has a 100% win record then, and it would be fantastic if he could maintain that in Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final, but Spurs will have to play far better than this to conquer the mighty Manchester City. This was a great night for Ryan though. He is Spurs through and through and quite rightly proud as punch to be in charge of his team tonight and for as long as his position lasts. His initial team selection was not significantly different from some of Jose Mourinho’s recent teams, with both Ndombele and Lo Celso playing. For the most part Ndombele’s presence was not noticeable and Lo Celso’s touched were not coming off. Spurs were too often over-running the ball, or failing to control it properly. Lucas Moura was one of the worst offenders in this regard. Ryan must have geed up his team effectively at half-time, as Spurs soon became the dominant side. Perhaps Southampton’s energy levels were dipping, but Spurs certainly played with more determination.
There were a few fans gathered outside the front of the stadium, protesting about ENIC’S attempt to lead us into what has now become the failed establishment of a European Super League, but the numbers were not as large as had been seen at Stamford Bridge last night when the retreat by the “Big Six” began.
Harry Kane was not fit, and must be a doubt for Sunday. Harry was a spectator in the stadium. Joe Rodon didn’t make the 20-man squad. I thought he might have played, as he is cup-tied for Sunday. The Spurs side included three former "Saints” of course – Alderweireld, Hojbjerg and Bale. Southampton have their injury problems but fielded a side with reasonable strength, but they were a little short of experience on the bench. Alex McCarthy made his first start in goal since 10th March.
Southampton kicked off and played towards the South Stand. They had a free kick after only one minute after a foul on James Ward-Prowse in an area where you do not want to be giving a player like him the chance to deliver a deadly ball. As it happens it was Tella who delivered the cross from the left flank which led to Hugo Lloris making a terrific double save firstly from Salisu, then Che Adams, as he dived to his right and saved with his body. Southampton won the first of two corners, and Spurs hardly managed to get out of their own half in the first five minutes.
After 9 minutes Bale took advantage of a mistake by Salisu, flicking the ball inside to Lo Celso who hit his shot wide across the goal. Lo Celso was involved in Spurs’ next chance when he passed to Lucas Moura to his right. Lucas turned and shot from 22 yards, but he too was off target. In fact, Spurs did not manage one shot on target in the first half.
Kyle Walker-Peters made a great run advancing and getting the better of Reguilon in reaching a long ball forward. Between them, Reguilon and Lloris did enough to out the former Spurs man off his shot which missed the target. Bale got away from his marker at the other end and delivered a pass for Lo Celso, whose shot did look on target, but was blocked just inside the area.
Armstrong cleverly won a corner near the corner flag on the left and the ball was delivered by Ward-Prowse with and met at the near post by Ings who scored with an excellent header across the goal and inside the far post. Lloris and Alderweireld (who had been on that post) had been drawn towards the ball. Ex-Arsenal man Theo Walcott had a chance six minutes later as his team counter-attacked but Walcott’s shot was deflected wide for a corner.
Son was fouled at the other end just outside the box by Armstrong. Bale and Dier stood over the ball, but the kick (from 20 yards) was taken by Dier and hit into the wall. Walcott had another half-chance after a long free kick and got a touch on the ball, but not a strong one, allowing Spurs to clear. Spurs caused danger at the end of the half, firstly when the defence struggled to clear a Bale corner, and then in added time when Ndombele passed out to Aurier who hit a deep cross from the right. This was returned into the danger zone by Son, but mis-cued way too high by Lucas Moura.
Five minutes into the second half Lucas hit a ball into the box from the left channel. Bale cleverly flicked the ball back to Son, but his shot was well blocked. Lucas passed from a central position to Bale on his right. Gareth hit a shot from 22 yards and McCarthy had his first shot on target to hold. Lloris held a shot by Ings after Toby Alderweireld had only half-cleared with a header which laned at Ings’ feet. Ings must have done himself an injury in the process as he had to withdraw and was replaced by midfielder Diallo.
Spurs levelled the score on the hour. Ndombele started the move with a ball into the area where Son turned the ball to his left to Lucas Moura, whose shot was blocked but fell to Bale stood to the right of goal. Bale scored with a strike of genuine class which curled across the goal from quite a narrow angle and hit the net inside the far post. It was Gareth’s sixth Premier League goal of the season and his first since the two he scored against Crystal Palace in early March.
Reguilon crossed and Lo Celso let the ball run to Son (think of Fernandes and Greenwood for United against Burnley). “Sonny” didn’t score though as the Southampton defence closed him down effectively. Spurs won the ball on the left and Reguilon crossed from a deep position into the area where Lo Celso stretched a hooked a pass to Bale, who was to the right of goal. A corner was the result and this came to nought. Bale had another chance after another cross by Reguilon which was only half-cleared. Bale’s snatched shot from over 20 yards was way off the target.
Spurs thought they had taken the lead with a very good goal in the 74th minute. Lo Celso was in a central position and pushed the ball out to Reguilon, who crossed low into the box where “Sonny” hit the net from 15 yards with a left-footed shot. Unfortunately VAR found Lucas Moura in an offside position, apparently affecting McCarthy’s line of sight.
There were several substitutions before Spurs won a corner on the left. This had been won and taken by Erik Lamela, who had replaced Lo Celso. The ball appeared to be handled twice in the area, but neither were deemed to be punishable. Then the ball ran to the very edge of the box and Reguilon was fouled by another substitute – Djenepo. Referee David Coote initially awarded a free kick, but a VAR check revealed the offence had been on the line which therefore meant it was a penalty. Son had his fifteenth Premier league goal of the season with a powerful shot hit to the left of McCarthy who had already decided to go to his right.
Spurs were on top throughout the six minutes of added time and sealed a valuable three points which at least keeps them within striking distance of the top four. Maybe they could reach Europe next season on merit! Southampton could still do with a point or two to secure their Premier League status, but they are nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Good luck to Ryan (and his team of course) with that win percentage on Sunday!
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