REPORT Southampton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Four goals were shared as Saints and Spurs played out a spirited 2-2 draw at St Mary’s on Saturday lunchtime.
The hosts twice took the lead in a hard fought contest, with Graziano Pellè notching his 14th and 15th goals of the season to give Ronald Koeman’s men hope in their bid to overhaul their north London opponents in the table.
But after Erik Lamela had levelled up just before the break for 1-1 from close range, Saints were caught out again with 20 minutes remaining when Nacer Chadli earned a point for the visitors.
That additional point pushes Saints onto their best ever Premier League tally of 57, with four games still to play.
Defender Toby Alderweireld was available for the hosts and was named in the starting line up alongside Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield, while Victor Wanyama served the final game of his two match ban.
Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris returned from a knee injury, and started between the posts for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
A minute’s silence was held prior to kick-off as the two clubs remembered the victims of the Bradford fire disaster 30 years ago, with the hosts match getting the match under way soon after in front of a sell-out crowd inside St Mary’s.
Spurs, in all yellow attempted get a stronghold of possession in a fiercely contested opening to the game where a midfield battle commenced.
The visitors were content to keep possession, until Saints began to rattle their opponents after 20 minutes, with Mané’s continuous harassment of Jan Vertonghen and Ben Davies not giving Spurs a moment’s rest.
The pressure was growing on Pochettino’s men, and Saints fired in a warning shot when Ward-Prowse’s mid-range corner on 25 minutes was volleyed at near post by Morgan Schneiderlin, and turned past the post by Lloris.
The opening goal arrived four minutes later after strong work from Mané and Ward-Prowse applied pressure on the backline and when a loose ball was dithered on by Davies inside the area, Pellè stole in to poke the ball beyond Lloris to open the scoring.
A high line from the visitors saw them playing with an element of risk, with both Vertonghen and Davies going into the book, before Steven Davis span a shot wide from the edge of the area as another chance just got away from the hosts.
It was therefore a bitter pill to swallow when Spurs equalised two minutes before half-time. Eric Dier’s cross from the right was flicked on by Kane and nodded past a wrong-footed Kelvin Davis by Erik Lamela, though replays suggested it may have come off the Argentine’s hand rather than his head.
The second half got started with no changes made by either side, and Saints started with renewed energy in their attempts regain the advantage.
The best of the early moves involved Mané again, who continued to be a thorn in Spurs’ side, as he twice created opportunities for Steven Davis, and the midfielder couldn’t place his efforts on target, much to his own frustration.
The latter opportunity led to some choice words between two Spurs players, as Nabil Bentaleb and Federico Fazio had a public disagreement on the edge of their own area.
Saints kept coming forward, with Bertrand seeing his cross deflected towards the top corner of the net via Dier’s legs and eventually tipped over by Lloris for a corner.
Bertrand fired a shot over from a little closer in soon afterwards, with Saints turning up the heat on their opponents, something they added to by bringing on Shane Long in place of Ward-Prowse just past the hour mark.
And from Long’s first real involvement in the game, Saints regained their lead. Mané kept the ball alive in midfield and played the ball out to Long on the right, and the Irishman’s cross was gleefully headed home into the far corner by Pellè, who grabbed his second strike of the game with a towering effort.
Saints thought they’d done enough to keep Spurs at bay, but they were pegged back on 71 minutes when Nacer Chadli advanced down the right flank to get the better of Yoshida, before sneaking the ball into the far corner of the net from close range for 2-2.
Spurs were forced into their first change of the game when Ben Davies landed awkwardly inside his own area, and the full back was replaced by Vlad Chiriches, as the visitors scrapped their proposed double switch involving Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado.
Eljero Elia entered the action late on in place of Steven Davis as Saints pushed for a winner, with Fonte seeing a header from Schneiderlin’s free-kick towards goal cleared from the line, before seven minutes of stoppage time were added on, partly for a late injury sustained by Schneiderlin.
In that added time, Alderweireld saw a close range header saved from one of three corners in that time with Fonte having the last effort of the game with a header that grazed the top of the bar.
Southampton team: Kelvin Davis, Nathaniel Clyne, Maya Yoshida, José Fonte (c), Ryan Bertrand, Morgan Schneiderlin (Harrison Reed 89), Toby Alderweireld, James Ward-Prowse (Shane Long 62), Steven Davis (Eljero Elia 81), Sadio Mané, Graziano Pellè
Unused substitutes: Paulo Gazzaniga, Florin Gardos, Dušan Tadić, Mat Targett
Booked: S. Davis (66)
Goals: Pellè (29) & (65)
Tottenham team: Hugo Lloris (c), Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Federico Fazio, Ben Davies (Vlad Chiriches 75), Nabil Bentaleb (Roberto Soldado 87), Ryan Mason, Christian Eriksen, Nacer Chadli (Mousa Dembele 83), Erik Lamela, Harry Kane
Unused substitutes: Michel Vorm, Deandre Yedlin, Andros Townsend, Benjamin Stambouli
Booked: Vertonghen (31), Davies (34), Fazio (90 + 6)
Goals: Lamela (43), Chadli (71)
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Attendance: 31,622 (including 3,156 away)