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Emmanuel Adebayor's double guided Tottenham Hotspur to a 3-2 win at Southampton in caretaker head coach Tim Sherwood's first Barclays Premier League match in charge.
The 29-year-old forward had fallen out of favour under former head coach Andre Villas-Boas, but marked his first Barclays Premier League start of the season with goals in each half at St Mary's Stadium. Southampton made a bright start and took the lead through Adam Lallana's low drive on 13 minutes, but the sides went into half-time level thanks to Adebayor's side-footed volley. Three goals in 10 second-half minutes followed, Rickie Lambert cancelling out Jos Hooiveld's own goal before Adebayor had the final say. The Togolese forward produced a left-footed finish from inside the area to register his fourth goal in five Barclays Premier League outings and bolster Sherwood's chances of being appointed on a permanent basis.
Spurs, who suffered a Capital Cup defeat by West Ham United under Sherwood on Wednesday, sit six points behind leaders Liverpool in seventh place, while Southampton remain ninth.
Adebayor was selected alongside Roberto Soldado in a Spurs side showing six changes from Villas-Boas' final game in charge – a 5-0 defeat by Liverpool. Southampton brought in Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin and Danny Fox.
The hosts initially struggled to retain possession but opened the scoring as Lallana received a pass from Fox before cleverly spinning Vlad Chiriches and placing an effort into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Buoyed by the goal, Southampton looked comfortable and could have added a second when a flowing move resulted in Jay Rodriguez finding space in the box, only for the forward to curl his effort wide of the far post.
The visitors capitalised on the let-off, drawing level from a counterattack in the 25th minute when Adebayor stuck out his right boot to convert Soldado’s pinpoint cross from the left.
The visitors then operated at a high tempo when the second period got under way, and moved ahead on 54 minutes. Neat interplay between Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen resulted in the former delivering a low cross that was diverted in by Hooiveld.
Southampton were level inside five minutes. Lallana timed a run to perfection behind the Londoners’ defence and, as Hugo Lloris attempted to narrow the angle, laid the ball into the path of fellow England international Lambert, who passed into the empty net.
Adebayor again stepped up for Spurs, however, pouncing on a loose ball from Kyle Walker's long throw to grab his second in the 64th minute.
Soldado missed two chances to make the game safe as Sherwood’s charges piled on the pressure. The spurned chances had no impact on the outcome, however, with Southampton unable to force an equaliser.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino: "[It was] very frustrating, I am very angry about the result. We actually dressed up as Santa Claus and gifted them so many chances. We started very well in the first half, we went ahead 1-0 and nearly got the second goal. But then we conceded the equaliser, it was hard to get back into the game especially in the second half."
"I would change Lallana's great performance for a positive result. It would be nice to have the positive result to go with his impressive performance. When you talk about individual performances, it's great he played well and all credit to him but it's overshadowed by the fact we weren't able to get a win."
Tottenham Hotspur interim head coach Tim Sherwood: "I enjoyed the win. You always enjoy it when you win, but we're back to work on Boxing Day [at home to West Bromwich Albion]. If we don't win there then this counts for nothing.
"Emmanuel hasn't been playing. It doesn't take much motivation to throw him back in the team because of what he's done. He scored goals for Arsenal and Manchester City. It's a squad game, everyone has to play their part because the games come thick and fast. They have to be ready.
"[The 4-4-2 formation] is my way. It's the way I like to set teams out. There are no rules. There are different ways to win football matches. You do what you beleive and that's the way I think you should win football."
|19 Apr 2014||v Aston Villa (A)|
|01 Feb 2014||v Fulham (A)|
|23 Mar 2014||v Spurs (A)|
|01 Mar 2014||v Liverpool (H)|
|12 Apr 2014||v Cardiff (H)|
|01 Jan 2014||v Chelsea (H)|