Tottenham Hotspur picked up a huge win today on England's south coast, knocking off Southampton 2-0 at St. Mary's Stadium in the (at times) pouring rain. Harry Kane and Dele Alli each scored within three minutes and Spurs took advantage of a Manchester United home loss to Norwich to leap up to fourth place in the table.
The match started out rather ignominiously for Spurs. Southampton came out looking lively, trying to push forward and nick an early goal. Sadio Mane was particularly dominant early, with late runs into the box that led to some early danger. Hugo Lloris had to dive down low to parry away an early Mane shot that could've easily have been a goal.
Spurs looked turgid and uninterested for much of the first half. The stats said that Spurs and Southampton both had 50% of possession, but it sure didn't look like it – Soton were firmly in control of the match for the majority of the first half.
But things did change, and they changed quickly. In the 41st minute, Harry Kane opened the scoring for Spurs with a superb solo effort. Receiving the ball in the midfield, he absolutely schooled two Saints defenders before firing the ball past Gazzaniga. A fantastic effort, but equally poor from Soton's defense.
Two minutes later, Spurs doubled their lead off of an absolute gift from Southampton's defense. Kyle Walker put a cross across the face of goal and somehow Dele Alli lost Cedric in the box. Alli had enough time to receive the ball, take a touch, and then fire the ball into the net to put Spurs up 2-0.
It was a pretty spectacular turnaround after a half that wasn't all that great before 40th minute. Spurs went into the locker room with a solid 2-0 lead.
Spurs started the second half without any changes, and proceeded to preside over a more or less uneventful second period. Spurs took the foot off the gas pedal slightly and instead concentrated on maintaining their midfield shape and not conceding any stupid goals.
There were couple of scary injury-related moments in the second half. Harry Kane went down clutching his knee after a hard challenge and was eventually subbed off for Son Heung-Min, though he appeared to have just picked up a knock. Kyle Walker also was limping for the last 10 minutes of the match after another hard challenge. Mousa Dembele also got an ankle knock and was down for a bit, but was able to continue. Frightening stuff, but all appeared to be okay.
Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen put in another solid defensive effort, and though Hugo Lloris was called into action to make a couple of good saves, Southampton never really looked like scoring throughout the half. Tom Carroll and Nacer Chadli were late substitutes called in to help shepherd the match to a good ending. Spurs were content to let their 2-0 lead ride and cooly dispatched the Saints. The final score was 2-0.
- Spurs were not very good for almost the entire first half, but two defensive lapses from Saints were the difference. In the Carty-Free writer's room, it was mentioned that if you flip these two teams and then examine the game, it sounds pretty "Spursy" – dominant for much of the half but undone by some crap defense. Much better to be on this side of the equation.
- Kane's solo goal was superb. Kane was incredibly strong on the ball and made Soton's defenders look like chumps, but equally important were the tackles in midfield that got Kane the ball. Outstanding stuff.
- Dele's goal was the result of really bad defending. No idea what Cedric was doing there, but fantastic awareness from Alli to capitalize and convert.
- It's not hyperbole to say that the CB pairing of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen is possibly the best CB pairing I've seen as a Spurs fan, and that includes Ledley King and Michael Dawson. They are spectacular together.
- Despite not playing his best last weekend, Tom Carroll appears to have gotten himself a job as a reserve central midfielder. Tommy wasn't particularly phenomenal or anything, but his passing was silky smooth in his late stint in midfield. I love watching him.
- This is a match that could've ended up a dour 0-0 draw if not for two Soton defensive miscues. Spurs were clinical in exploiting those chances, and that was the difference today. Overall, a very solid outing in a hostile environment.
- Spurs finally break through into fourth with a number of winnable games left in 2015. Feels good, man. I'll just leave this right here.
YOU GUYYYYYYYSSSSSSSSSSS pic.twitter.com/rS1XzjLGuZ— Cartilage Free Capt. (@cartilagefree) December 19, 2015