James Ward-Prowse’s stoppage-time penalty earned Southampton a hard-fought point in a bonkers 3-3 draw at home to Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
The Saints trailed 3-1 with less than 15 minutes to play before Theo Walcott halved the deficit and Ward-Prowse stepped up to deliver a captain’s contribution, banishing recent memories of missed spot kicks to spank an equaliser past his former teammate Fraser Forster.
The first half was punctuated by match-ending injuries for four players split between both sides. Southampton lost their starting centre-backs to a dislocated shoulder and a broken rib sandwiched between muscular problems for Tottenham’s Richarlison and Ben Davies.
Both medical departments had far more work to do than either goalkeeper in the opening 45 minutes which saw zero shots on target.
Pedro Porro broke the deadlock in one of the seven minutes added on to compensate for the raft of injuries. After such a disciplined display for so much of the first half, Southampton’s first lapse in concentration was ruthlessly punished.
Dejan Kulusevski led Romain Perraud infield, leaving a yawning chasm for Porro to sneak into. With Mohamed Elyounoussi uninterested in tracking back, the advanced wingback had the freedom of the south coast to take a touch and crash his maiden goal for Spurs off the underside of the crossbar.
The Saints were level within 45 seconds of the restart, punishing a similar blackout that Spurs exploited before the break. Theo Walcott creaked into a sprint behind Ivan Perisic – one of Tottenham’s two enforced changes – firing the ball across the box for Che Adams to stab off the post and over the line.
Spurs were wobbled by the swift concession but managed to return the game to a pedestrian tempo they were much more comfortable with. Kulusevski chopped onto his left foot in slow motion, lazily swinging a cross into a crowded box. Despite red and white shirts either side of him, Harry Kane barely had to move to nod Spurs back in front with his ninth headed goal of the league season.
In a frankly bizarre match on the south coast, two very unusual scorers found the net within five minutes of each other. Perisic scored his first club goal in ten months, swatting a left-footed volley into the turf and over Gavin Bazunu’s dive just moments before Theo Walcott broke a scoring drought stretching back almost two years.
Antonio Conte’s side failed to clear a set piece in the final 15 minutes, limply allowing Walcott the chance to bobbly a volley of his own beyond Forster.
Tottenham’s indecision seeped into stoppage time and the substitutes bench as Pape Sarr was deemed to have connected with Kamaldeen Sulemana’s heels moments after his late arrival. Ward-Prowse’s emphatic conversion isn’t enough to lift Southampton off the foot of the table but the Saints are just two points from safety.
GK: Gavin Bazunu – 5/10 – Could not do anything to rebuff Porro or Kane from close range and was beaten by the bounce of Perisic’s effort.
RB: Kyle Walker-Peters – 5/10 – Reluctant to creep too far forward for fear of leaving room for Son to exploit.
CB: Jan Bednarek – N/A – Diligently followed Kane when he wandered deep, getting touch-tight to England’s skipper before he got too close and was forced off with a dig in the ribs.
CB: Armel Bella-Kotchap – N/A – Forced off clutching his right arm within the first ten minutes.
LB: Romain Perraud – 3/10 – The act of following Kulusevski infield is hardly criminal but the lack of communication with Elyounoussi proved costly.
RM: Stuart Armstrong – 5/10 – Skirted around the fringes of the contest.
CM: James Ward-Prowse – 7/10 – Grew into the came, increasingly getting his foot on the ball after the break.
CM: Romeo Lavia – 6/10 – Sliced through Spurs with a surgical through-ball to set Walcott away for the equaliser.
LM: Mohamed Elyounoussi – 3/10 – Didn’t shirk his defensive duties all game but did completely ignore the bright turquoise shirt all alone in his team’s penalty area for the opening goal.
ST: Che Adams – 6/10 – Drifting behind Walcott, Adams burst into the box to link up with his strike partner perfectly.
ST: Theo Walcott – 6/10 – Perched on the last shoulder of the defender, the 34-year-old doesn’t have quite the same electric pace but had enough to hare clear of Tottenham’s backline.
Mohammed Salisu (8′ for Bella-Kotchap) – 6/10 – A little overeager but got his head to a raft of balls tossed into the box.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (34′ for Bednarek) – 5/10 – Shunted into an awkward centre-back slot.
Sekou Mara (70′ for Adams) – 5/10 – A nagging threat following his arrival but lacked the cutting edge.
Kamaldeen Sulemana (70′ for Elyounoussi) – 5/10
Carlos Alcaraz (70′ for Armstrong) – 5/10
Ruben Selles – 5/10 – Southampton showed plenty of bright patches while conceding some boneheaded goals.
GK: Fraser Forster – 6/10 – Could hardly be blamed for conceding from point-blank range but smothered Mara well in the closing stages.
CB: Cristian Romero – 6/10 – Front-footed as ever when Spurs didn’t have the ball.
CB: Eric Dier – 6/10 – A little hesitant at times but strolled around the middle of Tottenham’s back three without much fuss.
CB: Clement Lenglet – 4/10 – So predictable when limply rolling the ball into Harry Kane’s feet.
RWB: Pedro Porro – 7/10 – Constantly probing Southampton’s backline with passes and runs into the final third.
CM: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 6/10 – There was no love lost on Hojbjerg’s return to his former side with a characteristically unforgiving and forceful display.
CM: Oliver Skipp – 6/10 – Circulated possession safely if not always spectacularly.
LWB: Ben Davies – N/A – The fourth player to fall foul of an injury in the opening 37 minutes on a cursed afternoon at St Mary’s.
RW: Richarlison – N/A – Reduced to tears as he limped off the pitch after three minutes.
ST: Harry Kane – 5/10 – Dropped deep into a crowd of red and white time and again.
LW: Son Heung-min – 6/10 – Spotted Porro in space and played the perfectly weighted pass to find him but faded thereafter.
Dejan Kulusevski (5′ for Richarlison) – 6/10 – Manipulated Perraud with and without the ball.
Ivan Perisic (37′ for Davies) – 5/10 – Switched off for Southampton’s equaliser, lacking any burst of recovery pace to catch Walcott but responded with a goal of his own. Mixed.
Emerson Royal (86′ for Porro) – N/A
Pape Sarr (86′ for Kulusevski) – N/A – Delivered the exact opposite impact Conte was looking for.
Antonio Conte – 3/10 – Spurs sleepwalked through much of the contest, barely breaking out of their stupor in a match they were fortuitous to draw.