Tottenham reversed their season’s fortunes — pulling off a comeback from 1-0 down to steal all three points late on — at the first time of asking, as interim boss Ryan Mason and Co., secured a 2-1 victory over Southampton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
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Mason took over for the remainder of the season after Jose Mourinho was fired on Monday, and though Tottenham looked much the same side they have since the calendar turned over to 2021, they were the side to come out on the right side of the thinnest of margins.
Danny Ings opened the scoring after 30 minutes, but Gareth Bale and Son Heung-min bagged second-half goals to pull off the comeback and hand Mason — once upon a time, a teammate to both goalscorers — a winning start.
3 things we learned: Tottenham – Southampton
1. New-manager bounce comes late to Tottenham: In Ryan Mason’s first game as interim manager, the Tottenham attack looked… a lot like it did in Jose Mourinho’s final game. Of course, Mason wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to pick a healthy Harry Kane (and his 21 goals, 13 assists in Premier League play, including four assists and a goal against Southampton earlier this season) in his maiden lineup, thus the lethargic, blunt, unimaginative forays forward were to be expected. 45 minutes into the game, Spurs managed to put zero shots on target; the first shot on target of the post-Mourinho era came after 54 minutes. The goals scored weren’t quite masterpieces in their own right, but all goals count exactly the same.
2. Southampton rally after FA Cup semifinal: Saints deserve all the credit in the world for picking themselves up off the mat following Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal setback (and the last three months of horrid results). With just seven games left in the Premier League season and safety from relegation all but guaranteed, some sides might be tempted to simply go through the motions and make it to vacation season — not the case for Southampton on Wednesday, despite the undesired result.
3. Next manager to be tasked with Tottenham rebuild: Whether it’s Julian Nagelsmann, Brendan Rodgers, Carlo Ancelotti or Roberto Martinez — just a few names loosely linked with the vacant Spurs job over the last few days — one thing is for certain: Much of the Tottenham squad must change, and quickly, if they are to compete for top-four in the Premier League next season. Of course, doing so hinges upon Kane first deciding to stay or leave this summer. Beyond the Kane question, the entire defense needs a good swapping out and there’s a desperate need for a genuine world-class attacker to form a deadly trio with Kane (should he stay) and Son Heung-min. So, best of luck to the next man up.
Southampton were twice spectacularly denied by Hugo Lloris in the 2nd minute, as Saints got off to a roaring start. Mohammed Salisu headed a cross on target to force Lloris into save no. 1, which he couldn’t hold and spilled inside the six-yard box. Che Adams pounced and smashed a follow-up effort at Lloris, but the Tottenham captain made an even better stop on the second attempt.
Saints remained the aggressors through the half-hour mark, at which point they were justly rewarded for a dominant opening 30 minutes. It was James Ward-Prowse’s corner kick which proved dangerous, and Ings placed his delicately glanced header ever so perfectly inside the far post that Lloris had no chance of making the save.
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Tottenham were hardly dominant to begin the second half, but 15 minutes after the restart they got their equalizer through a sublime finish by Bale. Lucas Moura had his shot blocked from near the penalty spot, but the ball fell to Bale in a challenging spot, on his right foot. The Welshman did incredibly well to position his body behind the ball and gently lift and guide it over an onrushing defender and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
The comeback looked like being completed in the 75th minute as Son slotted the ball past McCarthy after making a clever run to receive Sergio Reguilon’s cut-back cross. However, video review revealed that Moura was in an offside position while obstructing the goalkeeper’s view during Son’s shot.
The winner came from the penalty spot after video review declared that Moussa Djenepo fouled Son just inside the penalty area as he slid in to block the South Korean’s shot. Son stepped to the spot moments later and put the finishing touches on the rare comeback in Tottenham’s favor.