Pochettino slams Tottenham after defeat at Saints

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Mauricio Pochettino was not a happy man as he saw his Tottenham side throw away a lead to lose at Southampton on Saturday and seriously dent their chances of finishing in the top four this season.

Pochettino was sat up in the stands at St Mary’s as he served the first match of his two-game touchline ban. In the first half it was all going to plan as Harry Kane scored and Spurs were superb.

Somehow they only went in 1-0 up at half time and then all hell broke loose in the second half as Southampton fought back to win 2-1 with goals from Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Pochettino didn’t hold back from hammering his players for a tepid second half display.

“We didn’t take the second half seriously,” Pochettino said. “I don’t want to be too critical because overall I think we were better. But when you lose a game that after 45 minutes was under control, creating so many chances, and you lose the game 2-1 it is so difficult to accept.”

Pochettino added that it was “like the game was over before it had finished” and his players took too many unnecessary risks.

“It is difficult to understand the second half. We stopped to fight, to be aggressive, and gave belief to the opponent. In the second half, it is difficult to understand why we changed a lot,” Pochettino said. “In the way we started to play in the second half, it was like we didn’t expect too much from the opponent. In football you must respect the opponent.”

Consider that the nail hit firmly on the head.

Spurs thought they had won the game at half time. They battered Southampton in the first half and hit the woodwork twice as well as Harry Kane scoring. But they lost, and now, with trips to Liverpool and Man City to come in their final eight games of the season, they are up against it to finish in the top four.

Pochettino knows it, as his side have now lost three of their last four games and sit in third place, just five points above sixth-place Chelsea who have two games in hand.

“It is good because a lot of people now are going to realize our real level,” Pochettino said, before adding. “We are fighting against big sides (for the top four). We had a big gap, that maybe wasn’t real, now welcome to the reality. We are under going to be under pressure to win games. It is a massive challenge for us to keep our position.”

Spurs now have three weeks off to mull over this result, as their next game is at Liverpool on Mar. 31.

With Dele Alli back fit, a place in the Champions League last eight and their new stadium finally having an opening date, there was a lot of positivity around Tottenham going into this clash. Not anymore. And now Pochettino, once again from the stands, must make sure his team can focus for 90 minutes when they play Liverpool at Anfield at the end of March.

They are now without a win in their last four Premier League games, so is this a reality check for Spurs?

“Maybe that is our reality? People talk about perception but maybe we need to realize that in the Premier League, if we do not fight with the same intensity to the Champions League, you can struggle. That is a good point,” Pochettino said. “The reality is you can’t only fight for 45 minutes and you think it is going to be easy because we are a team in the Champions League quarterfinals. That is so dangerous.”

Saints overwhelm Spurs in comeback win (video)

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  • Spurs dominate 1st half, get Kane opener
  • Saints flip script in second with Valery equalizer
  • Ward-Prowse with beauty free kick to win

Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse scored second half goals as Southampton’s splendid second half was enough to beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at St. Mary’s on Saturday.

Harry Kane gave Spurs a halftime lead, but Europe-weary Spurs had little offer in the second half.

Saints move to 30 points, good for 16th, while Tottenham remain third with 61 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Harry Kane was very much the story of the first half, nearly scoring early and then seeing a would-be assist to Lucas Moura slid off the Saints post by a desperate defender.

Christian Eriksen then beat the wall and keeper but stuck the bar with a 23rd minute free kick.

It was Kane who’d deservedly put Spurs ahead, though, with Dele Alli supplying fantastic service on the opener.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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Jan Vertonghen missed with a side volley attempt after Kane won a corner in the 52nd minute.

Saints hadn’t quit, though, and substitute Shane Long picked out Nathan Redmond for a shot screwed wide of the post in the 56th.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was busy in the next phase of the match, including a left-footer over the bar.

Redmond missed another in-tight shot moments later, but Saints’ wait for an equalizer arrived via Valery in the 77th minute after Danny Rose let a loose ball go through his legs for the youngster to run onto and finish.

And Stuart Armstrong could’ve put Saints ahead moments later when taken down by Kyle Walker-Peters, but only a free kick was given by referee Kevin Friend.

Then James Ward-Prowse did what he often does from a dead ball situation, swirling a free kick past a flying Hugo Lloris and into the goal.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Lukaku leads Manchester United in thrilling comeback win

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  • Lukaku scores twice in 2nd half
  • Saints lead twice on two beauties
  • Pereira, Valery score 1st PL goals

An absolute classic at Old Trafford saw Manchester United comeback twice against visiting Southampton, as the sides only scored thrilling goals in a 3-2 match on Saturday.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice including the last of the stunners, taking a Fred flick and ripping past a flying Angus Gunn.

Andreas Pereira also scored for United, while James Ward-Prowse and Yan Valery are on the score sheet for Southampton.

Four of the five goals were Goal of the Week contenders, with Lukaku’s first quite lovely but not in that category. Gunn stopped Pogba’s penalty late, as Lukaku did not get a chance at his hat trick.

United moves fourth, three points behind Tottenham, while Saints remain 17th with 27 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brilliant goals were the name of the game, the first being Valery’s absolute terror from better than 20 yards away from goal.

The Southampton youngster laced a right-footed shot which beat David De Gea to the near post; The gorgeous would’ve been stopped by De Gea at his best.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Saints continued to work for a surprise three points at Old Trafford, but that notion was spoiled by Pereira and Lukaku.

Pereira’s goal, like Valery’s his first in the Premier League, was sensational. The Brazilian cut in from the left and took a step before curling a pearler around Angus Gunn and into the goal.

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Gunn had been sensational himself over the course of the match, making numerous first half stops for Saints.

He wasn’t able to get to Lukaku’s 10-yards low drive inside the far post, as United took the lead with about a half-hour remaining in the game.

Ward-Prowse got his free kick in the 75th minute, and boy did he get full body on his strike. De Gea was left flying through the air as the ball tore into the upper 90. 2-2.

Lukaku then took Fred’s feed to score a stunner of a winner, and Stuart Armstrong fouled Marcus Rashford to allow Pogba his chance to score from the spot. The French star was saved by Gunn.

AT HALF: Saints, Wolves, Palace lead as Cardiff in trouble

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Cardiff City is in big, big trouble as it stands.

The Bluebirds have fallen behind 2-0 to Wolves as part of a five-match Premier League mid-morning slate, while relegation rivals Southampton have a surprising lead at Manchester United.

It’s not all terrible news for Neil Warnock‘s Welshmen, with Burnley also behind and Brighton level with Huddersfield.

Manchester United 0-1 Southampton

Not only has Yan Valery scored this absolute rocket, but Saints might be up 2- or 3-0 thanks to a couple of ungiven penalties at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has some work to do.

To be fair, though, Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn has been fantastic for the visitors.

Bournemouth 0-0 Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne has left the match before halftime with a leg injury suffered while dribbling, as City has two big worries in their title fight going into halftime.

Wolves 2-0 Cardiff City

Mexico’s Raul Jimenez has a goal and assisted on Diogo Jota‘s clever goal as the Midlands bunch looks set to rebound from a dip in form.

Burnley 0-1 Crystal Palace

Phil Bardsley has conceded an own goal and Burnley is could well finish the day in 17th if Brighton can get a result versus Huddersfield Town.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Huddersfield Town

Alireza Jahanbakhsh struck the bar after a terrific individual play, but the Seagulls and Terriers are yet to see a goal at the Amex Stadium.

WATCH: Yan Valery puts Saints ahead with missile from distance

Martin Rickett/PA via AP
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Yan Valery is going to treasure his first Premier League goal for the rest of his life, and perhaps it will stand as a momentous one for Southampton, but rest assured many neutrals won’t be forgetting it either.

[ STREAM: Man Utd – Southampton ]

Southampton’s 20-year-old fullback attacked with vigor when he had a chance from distance, beating David De Gea with a goal sure to meet contention for Goal of the Month.

The ball is worked from left to right and Valery is well-position to have a touch and a look at the goal guarded by one of the world’s best goalkeepers.

De Gea wasn’t at his finest, and he would’ve needed to be as Valery drills the ball with the fierce intent to give Ralph Hasenhuttl and Saints a 1-0 edge in their fight to further this Premier League safety campaign.