Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse scripted a spectacular comeback win for Southampton who stunned Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday after being completely outplayed in the first half.
Tottenham held the lead at half-time through Harry Kane’s opener and fully deserved their advantage following dominant first 45 minutes.
However, the Saints came roaring back with two goals from Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse in a much improved second-half display.
Spurs had looked in complete control of the match during the opening exchanges, particularly as they twice hit the woodwork.
Firstly when Maya Yoshida deflected a Harry Kane cross against his own post and then, just minutes later, when Christian Eriksen’s free-kick clipped the top of the crossbar.
Eventually, Tottenham’s pressure told when on 26 minutes they deservedly took the lead as Kane lashed home from close range after the returning Dele Alli floated a perfectly timed pass over the top of the Southampton defence.
Southampton barely laid a glove on Tottenham during the first half and their manager Ralph Hasenhuttl made two changes at half-time with Josh Sims and Shane Long coming on.
Those alterations certainly had the desired effect as Southampton dominated the second period, with Long, Nathan Redmond and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg all going close before the hour mark.
At one stage it looked like the hosts would regret missing so many chances, but they eventually drew level on 76 minutes, as right-back Yann Valery made it two goals in two games, converting Stuart Armstrong’s pull-back that somehow dissected a static Spurs defence.
Spurs were left reeling after that and just five minutes later Southampton grabbed what proved to be the winning goal when James Ward-Prowse curled a superb free-kick, from fully 25 yards out, into the top corner – a goal worthy of winning any game.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, who was watching from the stands due to his two-match touchline ban, brought on Fernando Llorente late on, but it was to no avail as Spurs failed to win for a fourth Premier League game in a row.
After the match Pochettino said, “It is so difficult to understand why we changed so much from the first half to the second.
“The second half, we did not take it seriously, I don’t want to criticise too much but when you lose a game that was under control after 45 minutes - we should be 3-0, 4-0 - and finishes in 2-1 defeat, it is difficult to accept.
“Their first goal was a cross in front of the goal where four players can put the ball out of the stadium.
“This is our reality. People talk about perceptions but we need to realise if you do not fight with intensity for the Champions League, you will struggle. We are fighting against big sides. We had a big gap, welcome to the reality, we are under pressure to win games. It is a massive challenge for us.”
About the Author
Jeet Ghosh is a Football Journalist, living and working in Kolkata with 7 years of experience. He has also worked with Sportzwiki and India.com. Jeet is a sports lover but has special liking for football. He follows the football league’s around the world and is somewhat partial towards Real Madrid.