Southampton 2 Tottenham 3
Forgotten man Emmanuel Adebayor’s road to redemption continues apace, netting a brace in a victory at Southampton that will only boost Tim Sherwood’s chances of keeping the Tottenham job permanently.
It has been quite the chaotic week for Spurs, with a humiliating 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool last Sunday resulting in Andre Villas-Boas being shown the door less than 24 hours later.
Sherwood, Tottenham’s head of football development, was handed the role of interim manager in the aftermath of that dismissal. Having seen Spurs crash out of the Capital One Cup at the hands of West Ham in midweek, on Sunday he oversaw a thrilling, Adebayor-inspired 3-2 win at St Mary’s.
Cast aside by Villas-Boas, the Togo striker has started both matches under Sherwood and netted a brace to add to his strike in the midweek loss to the Hammers.
Adebayor struck a superb volley to put Tottenham level midway through the first half, cancelling out a fine effort from the edge of the box by Saints captain Adam Lallana.
Tottenham dominated from that point onwards and deservedly went ahead early in the second half as a Danny Rose cross was turned home by Jos Hooiveld – his fourth own goal since the start of last season.
Saints levelled as Rickie Lambert made the most of Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ dash off the line to net into an empty goal, but Spurs were not to be denied for long.
Not so long ago the hosts had the best defensive record in the league but injuries have taken their toll, with Adebayor taking full advantage of the makeshift backline to fire home from close range.
It proved to the be decisive goal but it could have been worse for Southampton, who have now gone six matches without a win under reported Tottenham target Mauricio Pochettino.
This was a match between two of Glenn Hoddle’s former clubs and the ex-England boss, working as a television pundit for the encounter, confirmed in the build-up his interest in regaining the White Hart Lane hotseat.
Hoddle is second favourite with bookmakers for the job behind interim boss Sherwood, who made four alterations after the defeat to West Ham but stuck with a 4-4-2 formation.
Counterpart Pochettino made three changes and his injury-hit side had the first chance of the afternoon
inside three minutes, with a long-range Lambert free-kick beating the wall but not Lloris.
The next strike on Tottenham’s goal, though, was too good for the Frenchman.
Danny Fox burst forward and fed Lallana, who turned Vlad Chiriches on the edge of the box before firing a low strike into the bottom corner.
A wayward attempt from Gylfi Sigurdsson was the only shot Tottenham mustered in the opening 20 minutes and perhaps led to Sherwood’s decision to swap his vantage point in the directors’ box for the technical area.
The interim manager was somewhat fortunate not to see his side go further behind soon after he made it pitchside as Southampton’s England trio linked up superbly.
Lambert was allowed time to cut the ball across for Lallana, whose fine touch played through Jay Rodriguez, although he was unable to direct his effort on target.
It was a missed opportunity Saints were made to rue in the 25th minute as rejuvenated Adebayor struck home, with Roberto Soldado keeping his wayward pass in and swinging over a cross which the striker turned home with a superb hooked volley.
Spurs ended the half in the ascendancy and continued in the same manner when play resumed, although injury meant Mousa Dembele soon had to be replaced by 19-year-old debutant Nabil Bentaleb.
Despite the enforced alteration, the visitors remained on top and it was no surprise when they went ahead in the 54th minute.
Christian Eriksen played through Rose, whose low cross from the left was directed home by Hooiveld.
It was a comical own goal that had the 3,173 away fans in fine voice – if only for five minutes.
Jack Cork played a defence-splitting pass through to Lallana and, with Lloris having rushed off his line, the Saints captain squared for Lambert to put into the empty net.
After doing well to prevent Adebayor putting Spurs back ahead, Paulo Gazzaniga was soon beaten by the former Arsenal striker after calamitous defending from a quick throw-in allowed him to strike home.
Further chances followed for Spurs as firstly Soldado burst clear on goal and somehow put wide, before then meeting a fine cross from the right but hitting a six-yard strike into the ground and over.