Southampton v Tottenham
9th March 2019
James Ward-Prowse scored from a sublime free kick. Again.
IBO Reporter : channonite
Wow! That was an unexpected bonus. I went into this game not expecting anything and the first half only served to reinforce that feeling. Saints were on the ropes and to be honest should have gone into the break at least 0-3 down, so keeping the score to just 0-1 felt like some sort of victory.
That second half though, un-freaking-believable. The half-time substitutions made all the difference and suddenly Saints were on the front foot, rather than desperately back-pedalling. The end result being a valuable three points that may just be the difference come the end of the season.
A big shout out to the fans as well. After the vocal support being patchy at best for a long time now, suddenly there was a bit of passion shown. Every time the Spud supporters started their sad version of OWTS, they were immediately drowned out by the entire stadium singing 'Oh when the SAINTS go marching in'. So effective was this, that they gave up trying to sing it. My favourite moment was shortly after the away support had a brief bout of 'Harry Kane, he's one of our own', Kevin Friend made another daft pro-Spuds decision, to which the Saints fans started singing 'Kevin Friend, he's one of your own'. Priceless.
There is not much to say about the starting line-up, as for the third match in a row Hasenhüttl named exactly the same team.
There was a real sense of expectation in the stadium, enthusiasm whipped up in parts of the stadium with those ridiculous cardboard clapper things, but the difference this time was that they had been issued in alternate block of red and white backing and as the teams came out we held up the clappers with the red/white backs towards the pitch. It looked quite effective, but it was noticeable that the Northam and Itchen North hadn't been given any clappers. Maybe they were not to be trusted with large bits of cardboard?!
If we were expecting a fighting performance like we saw in Manchester last week, then we were very quickly brought back down to earth. Tottenham were all over Saints, like the proverbial cheap suit. Kane in particular should have had two goals in the first five minutes, but thankfully his timing was just a bit off. First of all he tried a shot from around 20 yards out, but hit it hopelessly wide. As if that wasn't bad enough, within a couple of minutes we were treated to the site of him advancing on goal, when the ball landed on his right shoulder and for a couple of paces, it just seemed to balance there, before dropping in front of him. Once again there was a let-off, as Kane blazed a shot over the bar, when it looked certain that he would score. We all looked at each other and nothing need to be said. I remember thinking that it was going to be a long afternoon.
From then on it was one way traffic, with Tottenham looking certain to score every single time that they attacked. Romeu got himself booked with really silly block/tackle. I couldn't argue with that booking, but it was already clear that Mr Friend was not going to give anything to Saints if he could possibly help it, but you will not read anything about some of his ridiculous decisions in the press. A friend of Tottenham indeed.
We then had collective heart failure, when Kane slid the ball across the face of the goal for the waiting Moura. Yoshida got in a sliding interception, which cannoned against the upright and bounced out. Still lying on the ground, he managed to clear it as far as Bertrand who booted it upfield. The clearance was returned and Rose managed to theatrically fall over Romeu's feet, whereupon Mr. Friend was delighted to be able to award a free kick. The slow motion replay showed Rose going down before he even reached Romeu, but that didn't seem to matter. Eriksen stepped up and crashed the free kick against the cross-bar and over. Phew!
It was only a matter of time though. Saints had a rare moment or two in and around the Tottenham penalty area, which was gathered by Alli deep in his own half, racing up the left, he found Kane diagonally on the right, who then returned the pass and moved into the penalty area. Alli then chipped the ball through to Kane, who steadied himself and slotted the ball past a wrong footed Gunn. 0-1. Ridiculously easy and not even half an hour gone. It had been coming for a while though.
It was not completely one-sided, as Redmond broke through the Tottenham lines shortly after, but his shot went wide and Lloris completed a very quiet 45 minutes.
It was a very subdued St.Mary's at half-time, or maybe it was just the ludicrously loud PA system drowning out any attempt at conversation. As the players walked out for the second half, we were treated to the rare sight of a double Saints substitution, with Romeu being replaced by Shane Long and Charlie Austin replaced by Sims. It became clear that Hasenhüttl had also changed the formation, with Redmond now on the left wing, Sims on the right and Long in the middle. It worked. Particularly Sims, who added a bit of skill and guile at the front that had been conspicuously absent.
Almost straight away a chance fell to Redmond, that came about from the sheer speed of a break from defence by the trio of Long, Sims and Redmond. A wonderful through pass from Sims found Redmond, who was forced wide left by the defenders, unfortunately he just couldn't do anything but shoot wide with his left foot. It did signify a complete change in the dynamics of the game though. Saints were actually dangerous attacking, rather than just ponderous and porous in defence.
Immediately after came a moment captured on camera on the Teamsheet tab above. Vertonghen managed to hit Sims on the side of his head with his left boot, while trying to hook the ball away from the Saints player. Talk about a high boot! This happened just outside the penalty area and what did Mr. Friend (or the linesman for that matter) give for this clear foul? Nothing at all. Play continued around the prostrate Sims and only stopped when Redmond eventually shot into the side netting.
With just a quarter of an hour left Tottenham found themselves very much on the back foot and it was wonderful to watch. About now Long had to go off, he had been clealry struggling with some sort of injury for several minutes and the substitute was himself substituted by Armstrong. This was to have a considerable bearing on the outcome of the game.
The equaliser when it came was not a surprise. Redmond took a throw-in, which if it had gone out a metre further up the pitch, would have been a corner. He threw it short to Armstrong, who returned it. From there it went to Ward-Prowse, Vestergaard, back to Bertrand again, who then put it through to the onrushing Armstrong and from there, the Scot passed right across the face of the goal and three Tottenham defenders, to find Valery. the young Frenchman thumping it into the roof of the net and the crowd went wild. 1-1.
If we thought that was good, what followed was almost dreamland. From defence Redmond, Højbjerg and Armstrong broke at speed leaving Tottenham in their wake. Armstrong in particular was busting a gut to get into the penalty area. Redmond passed to the Scot, but he had been shoved by Walker-Peters. The ref booked the Tottenham player and awarded a free kick right in front of the penalty area. We all knew what was going to happen. James Ward-Prowse stepped up and curled the ball right into the top left corner. Fan-bloody-tastic! 2-1. Two goals for Saints in the space of four minutes. The ground was absolutely rocking now.
Pochettino promptly made two substitutions replacing Rose and Alli with Davies and Llorente. Then they threw absolutely everything including the kitchen sink at Saints. Somehow, somehow they held on and at the final whistle the scenes of joy were just unbelievable. Hasenhüttl applauded all four sides of the ground and got in a huddle on the pitch with all the players. A huge win.
You might have got here and wondered why I haven't mentioned the disgraceful Sissoko head butt on Redmond, for which Mr. Friend booked both players, but I have mentioned that useless referee far too much in this report already.
Man of the Match
There were plenty of options here today, from goal scorer Valery, Bednarek who put his body on the line more than once, Armstrong who was closely involved in both Saints goals, Sims who added a new dimension to the attack (Why on earth didn't Reading play him when on loan there this season?) and the 'born again' Bertrand, but there really was ever only one stand-out candidate and that was the amazing James Ward-Prowse. Again.
A second goal in successive games for Yan Valery
According to Mr. Friend, this sort of tackle by Vertonghen on the excellent Josh Sims is OK.
43 Valery - Booked 22'
14 Romeu - Booked 10' (Long 45' (Armstrong 73'))
23 Højbjerg - Booked 78'
22 Redmond - Booked 88'
10 Austin (Sims 45')
16 Walker-Peters - Booked 79'
6 D Sánchez
3 Rose (Davies 82')
17 Sissoko - Booked 88'
20 Alli (Llorente 82')
27 Lucas Moura (Son Heung-Min 72')
7 Son Heung-Min
- Valery 76'
- Ward-Prowse 81'
- Kane 26'
Referee: Kevin Friend
- Southampton 37%
- Tottenham 63%
- Southampton 12
- Tottenham 16
Shots on Target
- Southampton 4
- Tottenham 5
- Southampton 1
- Tottenham 10
- Southampton 16
- Tottenham 9