Christian Eriksen opened the scoring with an excellent goal on 14 minutes, striking a low left-foot shot past Fraser Forster from 20 yards, who was then beaten from the penalty spot by Dele Alli on 32 minutes, the England midfielder picking himself up to convert from 18 yards after being fouled by Steven Davis.
Southampton pulled one back six minutes into the second period when James Ward-Prowse found himself free at the back post and tucked home past Hugo Lloris.
After an entertaining first half, the second was much more attritional as we had to dig in against a determined Southampton fightback, with neither side really creating clear-cut chances.
Substitute Vincent Janssen did test Forster in the 89th minute with a fierce drive and Sofiane Boufal drilled wide at the other end a minute later, but we held firm to make it 10 on the spin in N17 and cut Chelsea’s lead back to 10 points at the top of the Premier League table.
Mauricio Pochettino made four changes to the team that started against Millwall last weekend - Lloris was back in goal for Michel Vorm and captained the side, Heung-Min Son came in for the injured Harry Kane, Kyle Walker replaced Kieran Trippier and Mousa Dembele started in place of Harry Winks. Vorm, Trippier and Winks were all on the bench.
GOAL: SPURS 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON – CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN – 14mins
With confidence high following just one defeat in our last 12 in the league, we made a really positive start to the game and had a sight of goal after just three minutes. Eriksen played a wonderful ball round the outside of Maya Yoshida for Son, who shot against Forster from a tight angle. But we were ahead 11 minutes later following a spell of pressure, Dembele laying a short pass off to Eriksen who took one touch on the run and tucked home with his left foot from 20 yards. At the other end, Oriol Romeu went close with a 25-yard half-volley.
GOAL: SPURS 2-0 SOUTHAMPTON – DELE ALLI (PENALTY) – 32mins
It was an entertaining and open contest with chances at both ends. Forster saved superbly from Toby Alderweireld’s flicked header following Eriksen’s corner on 24 minutes, before the visitors had two chances to level. First Manolo Gabbiadini fizzed an effort just wide from 15 yards after a Saints counter-attack, while Dusan Tadic had to score when he found himself unmarked six yards out, but he blazed over. Gabbiadini was forced off with injury and, with the visitors bringing on Shane Long, we doubled our lead. Dele was brought down in the area by Davis, referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot and our England midfielder stepped up to send Forster the wrong way. The half ended with Lloris punching clear Cedric’s rasping 30-yard drive and we went in 2-0 up at the break.
Above: Jan Vertonghen tackles Shane Long.
GOAL: SPURS 2-1 SOUTHAMPTON – JAMES WARD-PROWSE – 52mins
There was a different complexion to the game early in the second half when the Saints pulled one back six minutes after the interval. Nathan Redmond got away down the left flank and sent over a cross which Alderweireld missed and the ball fell to Ward-Prowse, who slotted home just inside the post. We were quickly on the attack again though, Eriksen’s shot falling to Son 15 yards from goal, but he fired wide on the turn and under pressure.
CHANCE: JANSSEN DENIED A LATE GOAL – 88mins
The second half was so different from the first and we were really made to work hard as the Saints sniffed the chance of an equaliser. While Lloris wasn’t actually tested, Long was a persistent threat to our defence and the introduction of Sofiane Boufal and Jay Rodriguez strengthened Southampton’s attacking options. But we dug deep, with Wanyama and Dembele working tirelessly in midfield to protect the back four. We made changes of our own, Winks, Trippier and Janssen all coming on, with the Dutch striker making a real nuisance of himself up front. He almost clinched the points in the 88th minute with a crisp drive that was heading in until Forster intervened. Boufal fired wide at the other end and we saw out five minutes of stoppage time to secure three valuable points.
MAURICIO POCHETTINO SAID
"It’s always tough in the Premier League and today after the first half and 2-0 it’s true we conceded a goal and allowed them to believe they could get a good result. We didn’t kill the game so it was always open. The whole game was good and I’m very pleased with the performance. I thought we played well. We deserved to win. It’s true it wasn’t a brilliant performance but it was very solid."
DELE ALLI SAID
"We made it difficult for ourselves in the last 10 minutes but it was another solid performance and I thought we deserved the win. It was important we tried to score the third goal, maybe we should have cut through them a bit more and been a bit more clinical. It was a solid performance apart from their goal but sometimes those wins are more satisfying than a 4-0, when you’ve had to graft for the last 10 minutes. It was a great win for us."
Spurs (3-4-2-1): Lloris (c), Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Walker (Trippier 78), Wanyama, Dembele, Davies, Dele (Janssen 86), Eriksen, Son (Winks 75). Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Wimmer, Onomah, Sissoko.
Saints (4-2-3-1): Forster, Cédric, Stephens, Yoshida, Bertrand, Romeu, Davis (c), Ward-Prowse, Tadić (Boufal 69), Redmond (Rodriguez 80), Gabbiadini (Long 32). Substitutes (not used): Hassen, Caceres, Hojbjerg, McQueen.
Goals: Spurs – Eriksen 14, Dele 33 (pen); Saints – Ward-Prowse 52.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Dier, Walker, Wanyama; Saints – Redmond, Boufal, Romeu.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
It’s an international break now, so we are not in action next weekend as the Premier League takes a short interlude. The fixtures begin again on the first weekend of April and, after five straight home matches, we’re back on the road with a visit to Burnley on April 1. The Clarets are currently 13th in the table on 32 points from 29 games but with an impressive home record that has seen them win nine of their 14 games at Turf Moor this season. Kick-off on April Fools’ Day is 3pm!