LONDON (AP) - Gylfi Sigurdsson drove in a stoppage-time goal to complete Tottenham’s fight back from two goals down to beat Southampton 3-2 in the Premier League on Sunday and stay in touch with the Champions League places.
Mistakes by Kyle Naughton had allowed Southampton to establish a two-goal lead through Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana inside 28 minutes. But Christian Eriksen reduced the deficit from close range in the 31st minute from Naughton’s cross and he slotted in the equalizer a minute into the second half.
Eriksen turned provider in stoppage time to allow second-half substitute Sigurdsson to produce the winner from distance and ensure Tottenham returned to fifth place, six points behind Arsenal, which has a game in hand in the fourth Champions League qualification place.
“It takes real guts, character and spirit to do that and we showed that today,” Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood said. “Brilliant.”
But Southampton’s hopes of Europa League qualification were dented by its third loss in five matches, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side ninth.
“We had a very good game overall … it was a heavy punishment for the way we played today,” Pochettino said through a translator.
“It’s clear we made some mistakes that are difficult to accept and we need to improve individually.”
Tottenham’s prospects of rejoining Europe’s elite had been put in jeopardy by back-to-back losses to Chelsea and Arsenal, and the relief at the comeback for Sherwood was clear.
After starting the game in the stands following struggles to control his emotions recently, Sherwood launched himself down the touch-line pumping his fists to celebrate Tottenham replicating the outcome of his first match in charge in December - a 3-2 win over Southampton.
Although Tottenham has an English manager at the helm, where once the north London club prided itself in sending out a team packed with Englishmen, now it’s Southampton championing homegrown talent.
And, on the break in the 19th minute it was Rodriguez who scored for the third consecutive game in front of England coach Roy Hodgson. Naughton managed to miss goalkeeper Artur Boruc’s kick, and Rodriguez took advantage to slot the ball into the bottom corner of the net beyond Hugo Lloris’ reach.
In a game defined by defensive mishaps, Naughton was at fault for Southampton’s second, as his half-clearance went straight to Rickie Lambert who fed Lallana to sweep in his ninth goal of the season in the 29th.
But it was slackness two minutes later in the Southampton defense that gave Tottenham a route back into the game as Naughton made amends for his earlier shoddiness. Nacer Chadli teed up Naughton, whose cross was only partially blocked by Nathaniel Clyne and Eriksen slammed the ball into the net at the back post.
By now Sherwood had appeared on the Tottenham bench. The novice manager was soon in the face of the fourth official on the touchline complaining that Eriksen didn’t earn a penalty just before half time, although the midfielder evaded the Southampton tackles rather than take a tumble.
Tottenham was looking more composed and likely to equalize. Eriksen’s free kick was tipped over by Boruc a minute before the break, but he took just 45 seconds in the second half to score.
Striker Roberto Soldado, who has scored just once in the opening three months of 2014, at least found more success as a provider on Sunday. The Spaniard outmuscled Dejan Lovren off the ball on the left flank, and squared for Eriksen to tap into the net from close range
Then, with it appearing the points would be shared, Jose Fonte’s headed clearance from Llorris’ goal kick ended up at the feet of Eriksen who laid the ball off for Sigurdsson to score his fourth league goal of the season.
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