Gylfi Sigurdsson's late winner afforded head coach Tim Sherwood some respite as Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to beat Southampton 3-2.
The Iceland international struck in added time after the north Londoners had battled back from a two-goal deficit thanks to Christian Eriksen’s brace, which had cancelled out first-half efforts by Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana.
A four-match stretch, in which Spurs had exited the UEFA Europa League and suffered Barclays Premier League defeats by Chelsea and local rivals Arsenal, has increased the pressure on Sherwood, whose first win at the helm had come in the reverse meeting with Mauricio Pochettino's men. But this win has revived the Lilywhites’ hopes of a top-four finish.
There were signs of life from Sherwood's men on Thursday as they threatened a stunning turnaround before ultimately losing 5-3 on aggregate to Benfica in Europe's secondary competition.
Yet any confidence gleaned from that performance was not in evidence during an open start as they afforded their opponents too much space. For the first goal, Kyle Naughton misjudged a header from Artur Boruc's goal-kick, paving the way for Rodriguez to race clear and curl in his third goal in as many matches.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for Naughton, too, a another Naughton mis-clearance fell to Rickie Lambert, whose simple ball enabled Lallana to slot past Hugo Lloris.
Before half-time, however, Spurs clawed a goal back, Nathaniel Clyne also proved unable of clearing a Nabil Bentaleb cross and Eriksen was on hand to side-foot past Boruc.
The frenetic nature of the game showed no signs of halting before half-time as Rodriguez and Eriksen both spurned good chances, and within a minute of the restart the hosts were level when Roberto Soldado stole the ball from Dejan Lovren on the right wing, cut inside and slid across to Eriksen – who made no mistake with the goal gaping.
Suddenly Spurs appeared in control, as Southampton struggled to contend with the hosts’ purposeful running. Nacer Chadli hit the side-netting, but it appeared as though a point would have to suffice for the north Londoners, until Sigurdsson won the game in the second minute of stoppage time with a stunning low strike from outside the area.
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Tim Sherwood: "It was tiring, to be honest [travelling from the directors’ box to the bench and back]. It's hard sitting up there but it is so much better because you can see the whole match. Once I made the substitutions it was time to come down and cheer the boys on from the side.
"I've had a pop at them in the past but they know how to react to criticism now and they know how to react to winning games. The rant I gave them after the Chelsea match did them no harm."
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino: "The first half we were dominating, 2-0 up, and the decision before the second goal changed the dynamic of the game.
"Tottenham are a team that are equipped to win the Premier League, we are a young team, there is a long-term project for us but despite that it was an even-sided game and we were disappointed with today's result."
|30 Mar 2014||v Liverpool (A)|
|07 Apr 2014||v Sunderland (H)|
|12 Apr 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|19 Apr 2014||v Fulham (H)|
|26 Apr 2014||v Stoke (A)|
|03 May 2014||v West Ham (A)|