We returned to winning ways on Wednesday evening as three well-taken goals and some fine saves from Hugo Lloris paved the way for a solid 3-1 victory against Southampton at Wembley Stadium
Harry Kane set us on our way in the ninth minute, while two goals in four minutes early in the second half from Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son put the game out of reach for the Saints. But the visitors did threaten at times, creating a number of very good opportunities, only to find Lloris in exceptional form, not least in the first half with a stunning diving save to deny Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
He was eventually beaten deep into stoppage time by Charlie Austin to deny us the clean sheet, but it was a win which lifted the spirits after Sunday’s north London derby defeat and saw us climb back up to third in the Premier League table.
We almost made the breakthrough in the third minute when Kieran Trippier nodded Eric Dier’s raking pass in to Son who hit a right-footed volley which smacked against the post. But we didn’t have to wait much longer for the lead, when Trippier played a short corner to Christian Eriksen, whose low, hard cross was poked in from a couple of yards out by Kane.
While there wasn’t a great deal of intensity in the contest early on, we held the upper hand for much of the half although needed Lloris at his best to keep the scores level on 26 minutes. Manolo Gabbiadini played a ball into the path of Hojbjerg who hit a curling effort from 25 yards which seemed to be heading in, but Lloris produced a stunning save to tip it onto the post at full-stretch.
We continued to fashion chances at the other end, Son’s pace seeing him burst through midfield before touching a pass off to Kane, whose low shot was saved by Alex McCarthy, while the Saints keeper palmed the South Korean’s drive from 20 yards over moments later. Eriksen also tested him from a similar distance in the 40th minute, but again the England custodian was equal to the attempt.
It was no different in the opening stages of the second half either, McCarthy first denying Toby Alderweireld’s flick from a corner before diving to push away Eriksen’s free-kick. But from the resulting corner, the ball fell to Lucas who, with his second attempt, converted into the far corner to double our lead in the 51st minute.
And it was quickly 3-0 four minutes later after Trippier blocked Matt Targett’s attempted clearance out on the right flank, the ball bouncing nicely to Kane who centred for Son to slot past McCarthy.
The Saints almost hit back with a swift response, Nathan Redmond’s right-foot drive crashing against the crossbar with Lloris beaten, while Steven Davis’ free-kick from the left was whipped to the back post but Maya Yoshida couldn’t get a telling touch and our skipper gathered the loose ball.
Then in the 68th minute, Davis got a fortunate touch off Rose to find himself through on goal only to square to James Ward-Prowse, whose shot was blocked by Trippier. To be fair to Southampton, they were having an excellent spell and should have reduced the deficit on 75 minutes, but Lloris denied them with a double save, first from Hojbjerg’s long-ranger and then kept out Ward-Prowse’s follow up from the rebound. And substitute Austin almost curled one into the far corner but our skipper was there again to tip it around the post just seconds later.
They hit the post in stoppage time through a Davis header and got the goal they probably deserved in the 93rd minute, Austin slamming past Lloris when clean through.
Although it was a comfortable win on the night, it could have been a very different story had it not been for the superb performance of Lloris.
He pulled off a string of excellent saves, the pick of the bunch probably his first one in the 26th-minute when the score was only 1-0. Hojbjerg struck the ball so well from 25 yards and it seemed destined for the top corner, but with his out-stretched fingertips, the skipper touched it onto the post to preserve our advantage.
Mauricio Pochettino was naturally pleased to make a quick return to winning ways, but was disappointed with the way we saw out the match in the latter stages after going 3-0 up.
"There are two different ways to analyse the game," he said. "I'm happy because it was a tough night to play after three big games that we played last week, it was tough again. After seven minutes we scored and we were better in the first half.
"In the second half we attacked really well but at 3-0 it was tough. I’m disappointed because in 30 minutes I think we conceded more chances than we did at Arsenal on Sunday – yet we won 3-1 and on Sunday, we lost 4-2."
After bagging our second goal, Lucas admitted that it was a tricky test in the wake of defeat in the derby on Sunday, but his over-riding emotion was one of joy.
"We did very well against Chelsea and after, not so good against Arsenal. This was a difficult game but we deserved to win," he said. "We conceded a few chances but we enjoyed the chances we had, I scored, I’m happy, we won and the most important thing is to win."
Reaction on Spurs TV
Spurs 3-1 Southampton
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Trippier (Skipp 87), Alderweireld, Foyth, Rose, Winks, Dier, Lucas (Sissoko 74), Eriksen (Dele 79), Son, Kane. Substitutes (not used): Gazzaniga, Aurier, Davies, Llorente.
Southampton (4-4-2): McCarthy, Cedric, Yoshida, Stephens, Targett, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg (Romeu 88), Davis (c), Redmond, Armstrong (Elyounoussi 81), Gabbiadini (Austin70). Substitutes (not used): Gunn, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Valery.
Goals: Spurs – Kane 9, Lucas 51, Son 55; Southampton – Austin 90+3.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London.
Weather: Light cloud, gentle breeze, 11 degrees.