Great start for Ryan Mason as Bale and Son help post-Mourinho Spurs stage second-half comeback
Tottenham Hotspur (0) 2 Bale 60, Son pen 90
Southampton (1) 1 Ings 30
Life after Jose – and after aborted European Super League status – ended in victory, as Heung-Min Son’s penalty at the death made it a happy start to management for interim boss Ryan Mason.
Gareth Bale’s cool finish on the hour cancelled out a first half strike from Danny Ings and Son kept his cool at the death to put away his 20th goal of the season.
That half-time team talk will already look good on the new boss’ CV.
The win keeps alive faint hopes of Champions League qualification – something that is back on the agenda as a big prize now the fast-track charter of the new Euro league has been scrapped.
Seldom can a Spurs game have had such a backdrop as this.
The axing of a behemoth A-list manager, the installation of rookie interim boss breaking the record as youngest ever Premier League manager at 29 years and 312 days.
And, as to be expected, a knot of protestors outside an empty stadium making a point about vehement opposition from fans to the now moribund venture of the instantly-reviled ESL.
Oh yes, and there’s the small matter of a possible first trophy in 13 years at the end of the week with the visit to Wembley to take on Man City in the League Cup final.
For sure the turnout of disgruntled fans would have been much higher had Chelsea fans not done most of the heavy-lifting with their own protests at Stamford Bridge 24 hours earlier - which essentially became the first swing of the wrecking ball on the Super League edifice.
The owners ENIC and chairman Daniel Levy were the targets of their ire. In common with the whole football fraternity, they did not exactly warm to the idea of being bracketed with the breakaway elite of 12 money-chasing clubs.
In the midst of all the sub-plots it was easy to overlook that there was a point to this match, with Tottenham still notionally involved in the chase for a Champions League slot and Saints looking to get over the line in their bid to secure safety from relegation.
There was no Harry Kane to help Mason ease more gently into this prestigious and onerous undertaking and it would soon be clear that they could have done with the England striker’s help.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s selection showed far greater intent, strangely, than they did in Sunday’s supine FA Cup semi-final defeat to Leicester City.
It needed an amazing double save from Hugo Lloris to deny the Saints an early lead. He reacted superbly to block a header from Mohammed Salisu and made himself big to keep out Che Adams’ follow-up volley from no more than a handful of yards.
He was soon also having to race out to smother a chance for former Spurs defender Kyle Walker-Peters after Sergio Reguilon made a hash of an attempted clearance.
The goal they had threatened came on the half hour, with Ings darted towards the near post to glance a James Ward-Prowse across Lloris and into the net via the far post.
Spurs showed very little before the break but did look much livelier after the restart.
A chip up from Lucas Moura was met with a deft backheel from Bale into the path of Heung-Min Son. The final shot crashed into the covering Jan Bednarek. The Welshman then had a crack from distance straight at Saints stopper Alex McCarthy.
The extra zip was rewarded on the hour when Bale showed great composure to curl a shot into the far corner after a Moura shot had landed in space on the right side of the box off Salisu.
Spurs thought they had completed the comeback after 76 minutes when Lo Celso rolled the ball out wide to Reguilon and his cross was tucked home by Son. But VAR intervened because Moura, standing just in front of Son, was deemed to be offside and interfering with McCarthy’s sightline.
The next time VAR got involved, though, it was to award a penalty to Spurs – Moussa Djenepo’s wild swing at the ball, connecting with Reguilon right on the 18-yard line.
Spurs: Lloris – Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon – Lo Celso (Lamela 79), Hojbjerg, Ndombele (Winks 73) – Lucas, Son, Bale (Bergwijn 83). Subs not used: Hart, Sanchez, Sissoko, Alli, Tanganga, Vinicius
Saints: McCarthy – Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Salisu – Walcott (Djenepo 67), Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Tella (Redmond 84) – Adams, Ings (Diallo 58). Subs not used: Forster, Stephens, Minamino, N’Lundulu, Ferry, Jankewitz