Mauricio Pochettino got the better of his former club as Tottenham Hotspur beat Southampton 1-0 for their first win in five Barclays Premier League matches thanks to a goal from Christian Eriksen.
After back-to-back victories in their opening two fixtures, Spurs had struggled to maintain their fine start. In contrast, Southampton had found themselves among the English top flight's leading pack in the early part of the season under new manager Ronald Koeman.
Eriksen beat visiting goalkeeper Fraser Forster with a low strike into the bottom left-hand corner five minutes before the break, the goal ultimately proving enough to end Southampton's seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
Koeman's men did have a chance to preserve their impressive record six minutes from time, but Sadio Mane failed to sort his feet out in the six-yard box as a glorious opportunity to equalise went begging.
Although Spurs made 10 alterations to the side who drew 1-1 with Besiktas in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, both teams were unchanged from their last Barclays Premier League outings. It was the hosts who applied the early pressure, but Southampton went closest to snatching an early lead. Mane's shot was deflected wide by Kyle Naughton after a dangerous Graziano Pelle cross from the right.
Both goalkeepers remained unchallenged until the 25th minute, when Erik Lamela's effort from 20 yards was tipped wide by Forster with the ball looking destined for the bottom-right corner.
A reckless tackle from Ryan Bertrand led to Naughton requiring lengthy treatment on the half-hour. The challenge went unpunished but Naughton's match came to a premature end, with Eric Dier brought on in his place.
Forster did just enough to push an Eriksen strike wide of his left-hand post in the 36th minute, but was helpless when the former Ajax man tried his luck with a shot to the goalkeeper's right four minutes later. Nacer Chadli then hit a post after being sent through on goal by Emmanuel Adebayor.
Hugo Lloris had to wait until first-half stoppage time to make his first meaningful save, diving to his left to gather a deflected Dusan Tadic free-kick.
Younes Kaboul got a yellow card when he brought down Mane in the 52nd minute, before Forster spilled the ball from an Eriksen cross at the other end.
Lloris had to be alert to keep out a vicious Victor Wanyama shot following a clearance from captain Kaboul, then Spurs’ claims for a penalty in the 75th minute when Adebayor was challenged by Nathaniel Clyne were waved away.
Mane could have equalised but missed his chance to allow Spurs to get the three points.
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino: “It is an important win. It was a very tough game. We are still improving. I arrived three months ago. It is always difficult to put together a different philosophy in such a short time. It is important to build something for the long term. All the players did a great job today and did their best.
"I love Southampton and the club. It was a great period. Southampton will always be special for me in my heart."
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman: "That [Mane’s miss] is part of football. Sometimes you score, sometimes not. He got two good chances in this game. In the first half a good one as well, but maybe the best one was in the second half.
"He was playing good, he was fast, he was doing his best. Missing chances is part of football.
"I'm disappointed about the final result, but not disappointed about our performance. We knew it was difficult, because in the first half they did some great pressing. It was not easy to create possibilities or opportunities.
"It was a pity because they scored before half-time. We spoke at half-time about keeping good organisation in the second half and little by little we had to push up a bit more and I think we did that very well."
|23 Nov 2014||v Hull (A)|
|18 Oct 2014||v Man City (A)|
|30 Nov 2014||v Everton (H)|
|06 Dec 2014||v Crystal Palace (H)|
|03 Dec 2014||v Chelsea (A)|
|14 Dec 2014||v Swansea (A)|