The big striker first levelled the scores with a thumping volley before netting the second half winner after an own goal put us in the lead and Saints bought it back to 2-2 in an entertaining contest at St Mary's.
Tim Sherwood made some changes to the side that made a Capital One Cup exit on Wednesday, with Michael Dawson returning to captain the side after suspension alongside Vlad Chiriches at the back, while Christian Eriksen was given the opportunity to impress in a central midfield role in tandem with Mousa Dembele.
Gylfi Sigurdsson and Erik Lamela took over wide duties from the injured Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon, with Roberto Soldado up front in a pair with midweek goalscorer Adebayor.
Rickie Lambert gave Hugo Lloris an early feel of the ball with a free-kick from distance that was routinely fielded by the goalkeeper. Eriksen delivered a devilish cross that Adebayor was not far away from connecting with 10 minutes in, but neither side had really established a foothold in the game or a fluent pattern of play.
What Southampton did have on 12 minutes was the lead. Adam Lallana picked up the ball some 20 yards out and spun before dispatching a low drive beyond Lloris and into the bottom corner of the net.
Sigurdsson tried to immediately address the deficit with a shot from outside the area but could not control his effort and it flew high.
Tim came down from his position in the stands to reinforce his messages and try and get the team ticking.
Jay Rodriguez could have doubled the lead after Lambert dispossessed Danny Rose and squared towards Lallana, who unselfishly played in the striker in a shooting position. Thankfully his effort went over the bar.
On 25 minutes a quick break saw us level. Adebayor set Soldado scurrying down the left and the Spaniard delivered a teasing cross that was met on the volley by Adebayor at the back post. The striker made a fine connection and smashed past Paulo Gazzaniga and it was game on again.
Sigurdsson could have grabbed the lead with a deflected shot following a low cross from Lamela after a Soldado break as the team gathered some momentum and made the system work. Eriksen was becoming a force in the centre, putting in the graft to go with his undoubted guile.
Adebayor attempted to squeeze a cross in to the feet of Soldado in the opening moments of the second half after a forceful run along the byline before Dembele again required treatment and Nabil Bentaleb got ready to make an entry in place of the Belgian - his Spurs debut.
It was a big moment for the Academy graduate in the 50th minute in front of the 3,173 Spurs fans in a crowd of 31,455.
The lead was seized on 54 minutes when a combination of Adebayor, Soldado and Eriksen set Rose scampering into the area. The full-back drilled in a low ball that struck Jos Hooiveld and rolled into the net to spark the Spurs thousands into song.
The lead did not last long and Lallana again proved to be the key threat, surging forward and, when confronted by an advancing Lloris, he squared to allow Lambert to shoot into an empty net.
Immediately afterwards, Nacer Chadli replaced Lamela, but it was Adebayor next surging through and it took a brave block by Gazzaniga to prevent a second for the striker.
That man Adebayor was not to be denied though, pouncing on the loose ball after good work from Chadli and steering with venom past Gazzaniga on 64 minutes.
Soldado then should have given the team a cushion when slotted through by Adebayor, but shot wide when through on goal.
Chadli delivered a superb cross to the back post that the outstretched leg of Soldado could not quite steer correctly into the net, the ball bouncing over the bar. The striker, seconds later, shot into the side netting from a difficult angle. His movement was excellent though and chances were starting to arrive.
The threat of Lallana loomed again when he ghosted into the area looking favourite to score, but the lightning-quick Lloris was out to produce a superb block.
That was the final clear-cut chance the home team could muster as we secured a third-successive away win in the Premier League.
Southampton: Gazzaniga, Chambers, Lovren, Hooiveld, Fox (Gallagher, 78), Cork (Ward-Prowse, 64) Schneiderlin, S. Davis (Ramirez, 69), Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert. Subs not used: Cropper, Yoshida, Fonte, Reed.
Spurs: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Chiriches, Rose; Lamela (Chadli, 60), Dembele (Bentaleb, 50), Eriksen, Sigurdsson; Adebayor, Soldado (Defoe, 85). Subs not used: Friedel, Capoue, Fredericks, Holtby.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Sigurdsson. Southampton - Ward-Prowse.
Goals: Southampton - Lallana (13), Lambert (60). Spurs - Adebayor (25, 64), Hooiveld OG (54).
Referee: Mr C Foy.