English Premiership

Spurs fight back to earn draw

2015-04-25 15:51
Graziano Pelle (Getty)

London - Tottenham Hotspur held their course for a Europa League finish after head coach Mauricio Pochettino left former club Southampton with a hard-earned 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Graziano Pelle twice put Southampton ahead at St Mary's, but a pulsating game saw Spurs respond through Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli to close on a return to European football next season.

Southampton remain on their coat-tails, but will see this as a missed opportunity not to just overtake their rivals in the Premier League table, but also gain revenge over their returning manager.

The hostile welcome that some had predicted for Pochettino did not materialise, although the Argentine received a few jeers upon his arrival in the dug-out and was the target of taunts from the home fans.

The low-key reception was perhaps due to the fact that both of these sides find their seasons in danger of petering out.

But Tottenham's quest for European qualification remains in their own hands, while Southampton are still in the mix to join them as they close in on their highest top-flight finish in 30 years.

The home team started purposefully and moments after Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had foiled France team-mate Morgan Schneiderlin from a James Ward-Prowse corner, they took a 29th-minute lead through Pelle.

It was all of Tottenham's making as a catalogue of errors contributed to their downfall.

After slipping, Ryan Mason over-cooked a pass back to team-mate Ben Davies, who hesitated in clearing his lines, which allowed Pelle to dart in and poke the ball home.

Spurs felt that Pelle had nudged Davies in the back shortly prior to scoring, but the goal was no less than the home team deserved.

Tottenham were second-best, but they hauled themselves level in somewhat contentious fashion just before the break.

Eric Dier's right-wing cross was glanced on by Harry Kane to Lamela, who guided the ball past Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis.

Replays suggested the ball had struck Lamela's arm, but it was missed by referee Jon Moss, who was selected to officiate the FA Cup final earlier this week.

Despite the setback, Southampton looked in control and saw Steven Davis squander two golden chances before they regained their lead via Pelle in the 65th minute.

Following a driving run by Sadio Mane, substitute Shane Long shaped a cross into the box from the right and Pelle rose to plant a magnificent header past Lloris's outstretched right hand.

But the home side's lead lasted only five minutes, as Ronald Koeman's men were once guilty of letting their advantage slip.

Dier's straight pass into the inside-right channel opened up the home defence and Chadli held off Maya Yoshida to slide the ball in from a prohibitive angle and earn Pochettino's side a point.

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