Thursday 19 April 2018

Kane sets the tone for Spurs to cruise past Saints

Southampton 0 Tottenham 2

Tottenham's Harry Kane competes for possession with Southampton's Victor Wanyama. Photo: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Tottenham's Harry Kane competes for possession with Southampton's Victor Wanyama. Photo: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Tottenham's Erik Lamela celebrates with Eric Dier after the game. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Action Images via Reuters
Tottenham's Kyle Walker and Southampton's Juanmi. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Action Images via Reuters

Nick Ames

Ronald Koeman was mentioned in connection with the Chelsea job earlier this week but the signs are growing that he has more than enough to concern him closer to home. This defeat was Southampton's fifth in their last six Premier League games and the increased regularity of their failings at both ends will set alarm bells ringing.

Tottenham Hotspur were nowhere near their best here but the worry for Southampton was that it was not required of them. After a sharp first half-hour by the home side came to nothing, they contrived two pieces of disastrous defending to effectively concede the match in a three-minute spell before half-time.

After Harry Kane - on his 100th Tottenham appearance - was allowed to run through non-existent challenges to score, Dele Alli was similarly undetained to double the lead and Mauricio Pochettino could leave his former place of employment with what was ultimately a straightforward three points.

Koeman had protested that his side's stuttering form owed nothing to a lack of creativity, and a fast start served to underscore the point. Five minutes had elapsed when Steven Davis, who had led a ferocious early press from the home team, to release Sadio Mane in the inside-right channel. Toby Alderweireld was quickly across to block the forward's volley.

Mane soon had a clearer sight of goal, Hugo Lloris getting down well to repel his side footed effort from Dusan Tadic's low centre. The save was impressive, but Mane could reflect that a less centrally-placed shot would surely have been beyond the goalkeeper's reach.

Perhaps it was no bad thing for Tottenham that, whether or not deliberately seeking a breather, Lloris twice courted the crowd's ire by delaying goal-kicks. After half an hour, snatched efforts from Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Alli had been the sum of the visitors' threat.

What happened next bore the hallmark of a side whose confidence has taken a beating.

Tottenham had improved as half-time neared but it was still a surprise when Kane, released after Mousa Dembele had won the ball bravely, was allowed to run past two defenders and, gifted a clear sight of goal beat Paulo Gazzaniga comfortably. .

Within three minutes, Kyle Walker was allowed to advance unopposed down the right and, with Van Dijk backing off, centred low. Alli could take a touch before completing the simplest of finishes.

A two-goal margin was generous in the extreme to Pochettino's team but there was little solace in that. Southampton had brought the situation on themselves and showed little sign of correcting it despite dominating the second half territorially.

Tottenham had drawn their sting; Southampton had long since shot themselves in the foot.

Sunday Indo Sport

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