Tottenham held by Southampton as Harry Kane cancels out Davinson Sanchez own goal

Southampton 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1: Both sides had changes to win it late on 

Other Tottenham teams in other seasons might have left Southampton with this point and felt fairly proud of it. Under heavy rain, on an awful pitch, against a team fighting for its life, and who went 1-0 up in the first half. Spurs did at least equalise almost instantly, although it did not get much better than that.

For this Tottenham team, fighting to get back into the Champions League places, this sodden draw was a serious disappointment. Spurs had won six of their last eight in the league before today, including battering Saints 5-2 at Wembley at Boxing Day, one of those afternoons when everything Spurs try comes off. A repeat here would have seen them clamber up above Liverpool into fourth, at least until Monday night.

But it did not go like that. Spurs produced one of their most disappointing performances in months, creating almost nothing and recording just two shots on target all afternoon. Harry Kane’s goal, a header from a corner, came on 17 minutes. That should have signalled Spurs taking control of the game and getting away from a team they have never had any trouble with in the past. But Spurs were stuck in first gear all afternoon, and it was only when Mauricio Pochettino started to make changes, in the final 20 minutes, that his team played with any threat.

The real reason it went wrong for Spurs is that they did not have Christian Eriksen. He was missing with flu, and to take Eriksen off the pitch is effectively to lobotomise this Tottenham team. He is their influential conductor, directing all of their best moves. Today he was replaced by Moussa Sissoko, the exact opposite of a like-for-like change. The result was that Spurs’ game was far more about getting the ball down the channels, and crosses into the box, without ever going anywhere. This Saints team found it all very easy to defend against.

Sissoko did not even give his full-back much protection, and Saints even snuck into the lead by exploiting the space in behind Serge Aurier. Early on Dusan Tadic nearly put in Manolo Gabbiadini, and then the next time Saints attacked down their left, they scored. Tadic rolled a pass through to Ryan Bertrand on the overlap, he whipped the ball to the near post. Davinson Sanchez slid in but sliced the ball into the bottom corner.

Tottenham, impressively, went straight down the other end and equalised. Eric Dier forced a corner, Ben Davies curled it in, Kane ran away from Jack Stephens, lept up above Gabbiadini and thumped his header in. His 11th goal in his last seven games, in case you had lost count.

Kane scored his 99th Premier League goal

That should have been their platform for the result of the afternoon. But in truth it was as good as it got. The rest of the first half was frustrating and predictable. Davies hammered one cross into the box that Sissoko failed to turn in, and another that led to Kane being blocked by Stephens. The Saints centre-back, in fact, missed a brilliant headed chance from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick to put them up before the break.

The pressure was on Tottenham to step it up in the second half but it took them plenty of time to do anything different. For 25 minutes they went through the same old routine and the closest they got was when Dele Alli fired one just wide from the edge of the box. Pochettino did not make his first change until the 70th minute, finally bringing on Erik Lamela, but for Son, surprisingly, rather than Sissoko. That decision was booed by some in the away end who did want to see Son taken off.

This should have led to a Spurs siege but even that was underwhelming. Lamela scurried around in the final third and with seven minutes left he got on the end of Sissoko’s pass but was crowded out by defenders. Then he nearly bundled in a head, nearly turned in a Kane shot, but never with any luck.

It was Southampton’s substitutes, in fact, who came closest to winning the game. First debutant Michael Obafemi, got on the end of Tadic’s cross, with four minutes left, only to skew his shot wide. Then Sofiane Boufal got in but was blocked off by Sanchez. Southampton came closer to the win at the end but it was Pochettino throwing his arms to the air in exasperation at the final whistle.

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