A super goal from Danny Ings was enough for Southampton to beat lacklustre Tottenham 1-0 and continue their recent unbeaten run.
Saints looked like the more energetic side from the first whistle and went ahead when Ings produced a confident, sweeping finish in the 17th minute as he enjoys his best scoring season.
Tottenham looked short of ideas at St Mary’s and their poor performance was compounded in the 73rd minute. Harry Kane, having had a goal ruled out for offside, was taken off with a suspected hamstring injury, before manager Jose Mourinho was booked after entering the Southampton technical area following the disallowed goal.
Mourinho confronted Southampton’s goalkeeping coach Andrew Sparks over a perceived delay and time taken to substitute Ings for Michael Obafemi in the 76th minute, with the Portuguese saying after the game: “I was rude, but I was rude to an idiot.”
The result catapults Southampton into 11th place, having taken 10 points from their four games over the festive season, while Tottenham remain in sixth with just four points over the same period.
How Southampton breezed past Spurs
It was a thoroughly entertaining first half, and Southampton almost took the lead inside three minutes. Ryan Bertrand swung a wonderful cross in from the left, but Cedric Soares could only nod the delivery across the face of goal. Not long after, Kane saw his first shot blocked by the leg of Jan Bednarek before his second – also diverted goalwards by Bednarek’s calf – was well saved by Alex McCarthy.
Southampton continued to see the better of the play and, in the 17th minute, took the lead with a superb goal from Ings.
Jack Stephens pinged a wonderful ball forward, which the Southampton striker controlled with a fine first touch. He drove into the box, leaving Toby Alderweireld on his knees as Ings pinged the ball over his head, before powering home past a rooted Paulo Gazzaniga for his 13th Premier League goal of the season.
But Tottenham could have equalised before the break. Kane again hammered an effort goalwards, forcing a spilled save from McCarthy.
Dele Alli came racing in to try and slot the loose ball home, but was sent over by the onrushing goalkeeper. A brief VAR review ruled out the possibility of a penalty with McCarthy getting plenty of the ball. From the resulting corner, Alli glanced the ball into Jan Vertonghen’s path but the defender fired his shot over the crossbar from close range.
Southampton had a huge penalty appeal turned down early in the second half. Bertrand’s cross smacked against the arm of Alderweireld with Mike Dean initially waving away the claims. VAR reviewed the incident and agreed with the on-field decision, with Alderweireld deemed not to be in an unnatural position and unable to move as Bertrand’s fierce drive hit him at close range.
Tottenham thought they had scored in the 73rd minute when Kane poked home a Christian Eriksen free-kick, but the linesman instantly flagged for offside. The Tottenham captain immediately had his hand up afterwards, indicating that he needed to be substituted, as he felt the back of his left hamstring. As he hobbled down the tunnel, VAR was checking his goal, but soon agreed with the offside decision.
In the aftermath, Tottenham manager Mourinho went over to the Southampton bench and there were some cross words exchanged between the Portuguese and Saints coach Sparks before he went back to his own dugout. Referee Dean was soon over to show Mourinho a yellow card, which he openly accepted.
Both sides went close in the final 10 minutes. Substitute Shane Long rose above Vertonghen, but just headed a James Ward-Prowse corner delivery wide of the post. At the other end, Lucas Moura had two bites of the cherry, the first being blocked by Nathan Redmond before the second hit Bertrand on the arm before going wide. VAR also checked it for a penalty appeal but nothing was given.