Spurs frustrated by 10-man Southampton as Conte keeps up unbeaten league start

Mohammed Salisu was sent off with over 50 minutes left to play at St Mary’s

Tottenham’s Harry Kane celebrates with Eric Dier after scoring the equaliser from the penalty spot  at St Mary’s Stadium. Photograph: Getty Images

Tottenham’s Harry Kane celebrates with Eric Dier after scoring the equaliser from the penalty spot at St Mary’s Stadium. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Tottenham 1 Southampton 1

It threatened to be a long afternoon for Southampton when Mohammed Salisu was sent off with 51 minutes left to play but Tottenham Hotspur had to make do with a point from this breathless encounter.

Antonio Conte may have preserved his unbeaten league record, becoming the first Spurs manager in history to go without defeat in his first seven matches in charge but there was no escaping the air of annoyance in his demeanour at the final whistle, after they failed to build on Harry Kane’s first-half penalty.

In fact, Southampton could have snatched victory had Davinson Sánchez not blocked from the substitute Armando Broja after Eric Dier made a hash of a routine clearance midway through five minutes of stoppage-time.

Conte was mindful of disrupting the momentum fostered in the last few weeks and so stopped short of radically changing things but decided to give Lucas Moura – arguably Spurs’ star performer in the victory over Crystal Palace on St Stephen’s Day – a breather, until calling on him to replace the muted Dele Alli with an hour gone.

Alli, Ben Davies and Harry Winks, all of whom impressed from the off against Liverpool before Christmas, were restored to the starting line-up, but Conte’s fear about his team losing its identity was apparent as Southampton sped into the lead through their captain, James Ward-Prowse.

Spurs were shy of rhythm and appeared overwhelmed by Southampton’s desire to play them at their own game as Ralph Hasenhüttl, who made six changes from the win at West Ham, mirrored Tottenham’s 3-4-3 shape.

Ireland striker Shane Long, making his first league start for the club in more than a year, glanced an early header wide from a Kyle Walker-Peters cross and then Yan Valery, another player promoted to the starting line-up, pulled a shot wide.

Southampton looked sharp and Ward-Prowse put his team in front with a wonderful first-time strike. Alli did not deal with a Salisu long throw and Ward-Prowse hammered a shot that curled away from Hugo Lloris and flew into the top corner. Southampton supporters gasped as replays of the goal appeared on the big screens.

But it was clear from early on that Kane was in the mood. He showed great craft to nutmeg Salisu on halfway before drifting past the challenge of Jan Bednarek and slipping a ball through for Alli. Fortunately for Southampton, it was slightly overcooked and Fraser Forster rushed out to smother.

A couple of minutes later, Kane spied Sergio Reguilón on the overlap and telegraphed a ball out to the left flank. Walker-Peters tugged at Reguilón’s shirt and the referee, Anthony Taylor, awarded Spurs a free-kick, from which Davies headed in Son Heung-min’s cross from an offside position.

Spurs huffed and puffed after falling behind, with Winks lucky Southampton did not profit from him dawdling on the edge of his own 18-yard box. Aside from Kane’s eye for a killer pass, Tottenham looked a little harmless – until Winks killed the Southampton defence with a perfect pass and Salisu chopped down Son. Forster walloped the ball downfield in frustration and Hasenhüttl knew what was coming. Southampton were reduced to 10 men and Spurs pulled level, Kane ruthlessly dispatching a flawless penalty into the top corner.

It should have been Tottenham’s cue to make the most of the man advantage but Spurs failed to make Southampton suffer. Conte replaced Reguilón at the interval, wary the wing back was potentially a mis-step from joining Salisu in heading down the tunnel and Southampton continued in a stubborn 4-4-1.

Spurs thought they had the lead when Kane took another fine, this time floated, Winks pass in his stride before leathering in with his next touch, but it was ruled offside following a VAR check. A flare thrown on to the pitch from the away end was still billowing smoke as the goal was disallowed.

The big let-off was to come, however, with Forster fortunate the referee came to his aid after making a meal of collecting an Emerson Royal cross. Forster failed to gather the ball under pressure from the substitute Matt Doherty and inadvertently backheeled into his own net but referee Taylor intervened. – Guardian

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