Like a phoenix from the ashes, Emmanuel Adebayor rose from youth-team relegation to the first-team squad and he rewarded interim manager Tim Sherwood for the selection with a double.
The win gives Tottenham all three points in Sherwood’s Premier League debut at the helm of Spurs just days after stating his case for the permanent job to the press.
The match began with an equal sharing of possession, but some seriously poor passing by Southampton led to an early end to a few chances.
Sherwood’s lineup allowed the pair of Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado some freedom to roam out onto the wings. However, it was Southampton’s wing play that paid dividends early.
Danny Fox made a run through space on the left flank, and found Adam Lallana who opened the scoring with a low drive past Hugo Lloris in the 13th minute.
Lallana, having returned to the starting lineup after a week on the substitutes bench, used a brilliant first touch to spin around his defender, create space in the central defense, and drive down low.
The strike pair for Spurs would cash in 13 minutes later though, as Soldado received the ball on the left and sent in a deep, searching cross for Adebayor who connected with a high boot and stuck the ball past Paulo Gazzaniga from close range for an equalizer.
The goal was Adebayor’s first of the season, and a benchmark for the Togo international having been forced to train with the youth squad earlier in the year under Andre Villas-Boas.
The halftime break came without many other serious chances, but Spurs pressed hard at the start of the second half and held much of the possession. They were dealt a blow when Moussa Dembele was forced off injured just five minutes after the break, and Sherwood handed a debut to 19-year-old Naleb Bentaleb.
The goals then came crashing in. First, Jas Hooiveld tried to cut out a Danny Rose cross but tapped it into his own net past Gazzaniga to give Spurs a lead on 54 minutes. Rose and Christian Eriksen played a one-two, and the cross saw Gazzaniga and Hooiveld both look to stop it.
Southampton looked to counter, and that they did on a beautifully created fast break. Jack Cork found a streaking Adam Lallana down the middle, and with the Spurs defense caught off guard, Lloris was forced to come out of net. Ricky Lambert trailed the play and Lallana found him for the tap-in equalizer.
With the score at 2-2, Adebayor would soon put Spurs on top again. The ball came down the right flank this time for Spurs and after they worked it into the box, the ball squirted past a few defenders and fell to the Togo international who cut back towards the middle of the box and rifled home for his brace.
The game opened up, with chances on both sides, but Soldado thrice proved wasteful in front of goal, something that’s been a problem for him all season.
Southampton, though, proved frustrated as the game lagged on, and although five minutes of stoppage time gave them hope, nothing came of the frantic ending as Lambert came closest by heading over the bar.
The win will hugely boost a struggling Spurs side that was threatened with a drop to eighth in the table. Instead, they run level with Newcastle on 30 points.
Meanwhile, Southampton will lick their wounds after finding themselves winless in their last six, the longest such run under manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Southampton – Lallana 13′; Hooiveld (og) 54′; Lambert 59′
Tottenham – Adebayor 26′; 64′
Southampton – Gazzaniga; Chambers, Lovren, Hooiveld, Fox (Gallagher 78′); Cork (Ward-Prowse 63′), Schneiderlin, S Davis (Ramirez 69′), Lallana, Rodriguez; Lambert.
Tottenham – Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Chriches, Rose; Lamela (Chadli 61′), Dembele (Bentaleb 50′), Eriksen, Sigurdsson; Adebayor, Soldado (Defoe 85′).