Football: Spurs in fight for second

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris landing heavily after being fouled by Southampton striker Shane Long.
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris landing heavily after being fouled by Southampton striker Shane Long.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSEENCY
Spurs' Premier League title challenge also ended with a thud, with no wins in their last three matches after a double from Steven Davis (above) led the Saints to a 2-1 comeback win yesterday.
Spurs' Premier League title challenge also ended with a thud, with no wins in their last three matches after a double from Steven Davis (above) led the Saints to a 2-1 comeback win yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Southampton midfielder Steven Davis hits brace to help Saints upset Tottenham

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Tottenham 1

Southampton 2

LONDON • Steven Davis arrived at White Hart Lane yesterday with two goals all season for Southampton.

The Northern Irishman departed having doubled his tally while driving his football club to what had to be considered a surprise 2-1 victory in the Premier League.

It was deserved and kept Southampton ticking in their quest for Europa League qualification.

Both of Davis' goals were marked by precision and finesse, rather than any thumping power and, on both occasions, questions could be asked of the Tottenham goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris.

On the first, which cancelled out Son Heung Min's opener, Davis diverted Dusan Tadic's cross goalwards and with Lloris slow to react, the ball squirmed home.

For the winner, the Saints midfielder's shot wriggled through a crowd and found the corner. Lloris might have seen it late.

Tottenham knew victory would have guaranteed second place, but after a strangely subdued second-half performance, they were left to watch Arsenal's visit to Manchester City later in the evening with greater interest.

Nevertheless, defeat did not remove too much of the sheen from their post-match lap of appreciation, which merited an old-fashioned description as one of honour.

It has been a tremendous season for Mauricio Pochettino and his players and, no matter what, their place in next season's Champions League group stage is assured.

The title might have proved beyond them but there is not a Tottenham supporter who would not have signed up for this last September.

"We are still in a great position and if we look back to the start of the season we all should be proud. We need to look at ourselves, not at our neighbour," said Pochettino.

"We need to think like a big club, not worrying about what's happening in another house. We need to change that mentality, to be strong, to be a big club."

Tottenham went ahead early on and the goal owed much to Son's persistence and composure, together with a split-second of hesitation from Southampton 'keeper Fraser Forster.

The South Korean latched on to an Erik Lamela pass on the byeline, jinked inside past a couple of last-ditch Southampton tackles, before tapping in from close range. It went down as Lamela's ninth assist of the season and Son's fourth goal.

Southampton had travelled in fine form, with five wins from their past seven games, and they equalised in the 31st minute, when Davis' first-time finish deceived Lloris.

The first half was entertaining, and Tottenham could reflect on a number of opportunities that went begging. The second half was less frenetic, with the space much tighter and the chances fewer. Perhaps, too, the heat was a factor.

Davis' second goal came in the 72nd minute when he swopped passes with Tadic, skated right and unloaded a shot for the bottom corner. It seemed to take an age to get there through the crowd of bodies, but when it did, he and Southampton could celebrate.

Tottenham failed to turn up in the second half, which was curious after their attractive performance before the break. There was no incision to their play, no spark and the die was cast when Forster blocked from the substitute, Nacer Chadli, in stoppage time.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs in fight for second'. Print Edition | Subscribe