Ralph Hasenhüttl declared his pride at how his depleted Southampton side fought to nullify Tottenham in the second half at St Mary’s.
Saints were good value for the 25th-minute lead given to them by James Ward-Prowse’s unerring shot, but the game took a sharp turn six minutes before the interval when Mohammed Salisu was sent off for bringing down Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane converted the resulting spot-kick.
That left a Saints team showing six changes from the Boxing Day win at West Ham having to survive with 10 men for the entire second half, but Hasenhüttl saw his players defend manfully to secure a point that felt like three.
“It was an intense week – two games in 48 hours and two games with an unbelievable effort and belief,” he said. “It’s a deserved point, I think, because of our fantastic first half.
“We smashed them, we were so aggressive and we played so well – scored a beautiful goal, and then we made one mistake.
“We took a lot of risks in the first half, and then in the second half we defended with everything we have.
“In the end, as I said at half time to the guys, because of our first half we deserved to get something here.
“We were fighting until the end – good goalkeeper, outstanding defensive work, everybody throwing themselves in the way of every shot. That’s what you have to do in such a game.”
With such a quick turnaround between matches, Hasenhüttl handed first league starts of the season to Shane Long and Yan Valery in the absence of Ché Adams and Tino Livramento, whilst leaving all four of his starting attackers at the London Stadium on the bench.
“We always spoke about how this situation will come in the season, with Covid cases and injuries over Christmas, with a lot of games coming up we need to have a big squad and every player is needed,” he added.
“Today we see Longy, who had never started this season, but what a fantastic game he played, and Yan Valery as a centre-back, who did a fantastic job also. I must say I am super proud of what we have done today.
“I didn’t see a lot of chances, to be honest. A lot of entries in the box, sure, this is normal, but not the clear headers because we were very man-orientated in the box, and this was very good today.”