Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton match report: Steven Davis double dents Spurs' hopes of top-two finish

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Southampton 2: Steven Davis strikes twice to boost Southampton's European hopes and leave Spurs' ambitions of a top-two finish in the balance

Matt Gatward
White Hart Lane
Sunday 08 May 2016 14:48
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Southampton celebrate Steven Davis's winner
Southampton celebrate Steven Davis's winner

If there was a suspicion Spurs would be flat following their exertions against Chelsea on Monday night it came to be at White Hart Lane where they were beaten 2-1 by Steven Davis' double for a smooth-sailing Southampton side.

There was none of the fire, fizz and ferociousness of the Battle at the Bridge where Tottenham saw their flickering title hopes finally extinguished by Eden Hazard’s goal in that 2-2 draw. Without the carrot still dangling, Spurs couldn’t muster the hunger they have shown for the vast majority of the season and lost for the first time at the Lane since Leicester beat them back in January. Second place is still not guaranteed following Arsenal's point at Manchester City. Spurs are two points ahead of the Gunners and travel to Newcastle next weekend. The Toon could be doomed, should Sunderland win in midweek, or fighting for their lives. Arsene Wenger's side play long-gone Villa at the Emirates.

The result at White Hart Lane put a dampener on the post-match lap of honour to mark the season’s final home game but there is no need for wailing and whining, it’s still been a magnificent season for Mauricio Pochettino’s team.

However, suspensions - they missed Mousa Dembele’s power and Dele Alli’s bursts from midfield - seemed to catch up with them against the Saints who have only lost one of their last nine league matches, winning six, and are still in the hunt for Europa League qualification.

(Getty Images

Spurs, who lest we forget have earned Champions League football for next season, started brightly with Toby Alderweireld pinging a beautiful long pass over the head of the Southampton right-back Cuco Martina to the marauding Danny Rose in the fifth minute. The left-back took the ball on his chest and charged into the box before squaring for Christian Eriksen, timing his run to perfection. However, the Dane’s shot was weak and was well-saved by Fraser Forster in the Saints’ goal.

Southampton should have gone ahead in the ninth minute when Victor Wanyama slipped Dusan Tadic in behind the Tottenham defence but the Serbian, with Davis unmarked and waiting for a tap-in, neither shot nor passed and the ball fizzed beyond the far post. Southampton were growing into the game with Ryan Mason, in for Dembele, giving the ball away too often but Spurs were still in the ascendancy.

In the 16th minute their dominance was rewarded following a lovely passage of football. Christian Eriksen brought the ball down in the centre circle and passed to Erik Lamela, who enjoys an assist these days. The Argentine, transformed from the player who first came to the club when he was only ever seen in a Spurs shirt on a Thursday evening, delayed his pass and then rolled the ball towards Kane. The striker, fearing he was offside, left it to Heung-Min Son, overlapping down the right. Forster left his line but the midfielder was first to the ball, rounded the keeper but made his angle too acute. He cut back, dummying the keeper, Virgil van Diyk and Jose Fonte, leaving them all prone on the line, before slotting home. Cue another bout of Son-mania in South Korea, where he is a superstar. It was the 68th goal of Tottenham’s season - their highest Premier League total.

They nearly added another in the 22nd minute when a Lamela cross was whipped over the bar by Kane and then Eriksen found himself with the ball on the edge of the box but couldn't get it out from under his feet sufficiently to find the power to fluster Forster.

As the half progressed Southampton grew more into the match. An overconfident Rose, dribbling in his own area, was dispossessed by Sadio Mane, Jan Vertonghen came to help, Mane went down in the melee but referee Jon Moss waved play on. Ryan Bertrand then found a way behind the Tottenham defence on the left but Rose, at the back post, was able to turn his cross behind.

When the equaliser came there was a mild whiff of controversy about it. Kyle Walker went down injured following an aerial challenge and Southampton took possession. Moss glanced at Walker who didn’t appear to be in agony and played on - only then did the full-back grab his head. Cuco Martina chipped the ball down the right to Tadic who this time squared for Davis - the Serb’s ears were probably still ringing from his failure to do so earlier. Davis flicked the ball goalwards with little power - but Hugo Lloris was unable to stop it trickling over the line. There were complaints from the Spurs bench - but they were half-hearted.

Son scores for Spurs

Spurs nearly regained their advantage in the half’s dying moments as Kane chased a hopeful long ball that Font was attempting to usher behind. The striker won the ball and cut in on Forster’s goal only for the keeper to block the shot and earn Font’s blessings.

At the start of the second half Tadic crossed for Long who didn't make enough contact with his header. The signs were there that it may not be a happy day for Spurs. In the 68th minute the players had the obligatory drinks break due to the heat and whatever was in Davis’ bottle did the trick as the Saints man then gave Southampton the lead. He picked the ball up on the right of the Spurs box played a one-two with Tadic and rolled his shot into the corner of the net.

Tottenham huffed and puffed but didn’t look like scoring and rescuing a point until the ball broke to Nacer Chadli whose shot was brilliantly saved by Forster in stoppage time. For Spurs the end of the season cannot come soon enough - Southampton must wish it wasn’t coming at all.

Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Mason (Chadli 75); Lamela, Eriksen, Son (Njie 64); Kane
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Forster; Martina, Fonte, Van Dijk, Bertrand; Clasie (Romeu 57), Wanyama; Mane (Pelle 64), Davis, Tadic (Ward-Prose 83); Long
Referee: Jon Moss
Match rating: 6
Star man: Davis

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