Conte pleased with Spurs' self-belief

Italian praises his squad for aggressive play, strong mentality after conceding early goal

LONDON • Tottenham manager Antonio Conte praised his side's mentality and character after they beat Southampton 4-1 at home in the Premier League yesterday.

Goals from Ryan Sessegnon, Eric Dier, Dejan Kulusevski, and an own goal ensured that Spurs won their opening game of the season in the Italian's first full term in charge after he joined the club in November last year.

Conte said: "We started well but conceded a goal but we continued to believe in what we are working on in the training sessions.

"I liked the game a lot for the result but especially the way in which the result was created - creating many chances to score, good possession, good high and medium pressure. We were good when we lost the ball and the intensity to try and get it back.

"I saw a lot of positive things, but we are only in the first game. Today we have seen summer work with my players."

The Saints were the team who made a bright start in the 12th minute when James Ward-Prowse showed awareness inside the Spurs box, collecting a brilliant pass and firing a first-time shot into the top left corner.

However, it did not take too long for Tottenham to fight back, with Sessegnon heading in from close range in the 21st minute following a cross from Kulusevski.

Spurs then went ahead 10 minutes later when Son Heung-min - last season's joint top scorer on 23 goals with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah - produced a cross for Dier's headed goal to make it 2-1. They got their third goal in the 61st minute, thanks to an own goal by centre-back Mohammed Salisu.

Kulusevski then made it 4-1 with a low shot into the bottom left corner just two minutes later to put the game beyond any doubt.

Conte also gave debuts to new signings Ivan Perisic and Yves Bissouma as substitutes in the second half. Bissouma enjoyed a lively cameo, getting a yellow card and almost scored in the last minute.

The Spurs boss had half-jokingly said on Thursday he wants to win the Premier League and also the Champions League this season. Not many would have taken him seriously, considering that the last time Spurs won a major trophy was the League Cup in 2008.

But yesterday's performance has showed vast improvements under Conte, and although it was only the first game of the campaign, Spurs are looking strong even when attacking duo Son and Harry Kane were not on the scoresheet.

"We are very pleased," said Kulusevski. "After we scored we could have scored a lot more. I love how this team is playing because we create a lot of chances."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 07, 2022, with the headline Conte pleased with Spurs' self-belief. Subscribe