Southampton 3-3 Tottenham: Spurs stunned by controversial late penalty as grip on fourth is loosened again
Tottenham were stunned by a controversial stoppage-time penalty from James Ward-Prowse as a 3-3 draw at rock-bottom Southampton saw Spurs' grip on fourth loosened.
Antonio Conte's men appeared to be heading third in the Premier League, providing a fine response to Newcastle United putting pressure on them a day earlier, but Saints battled back from 3-1 down to rescue a point.
Pedro Porro's first Premier League goal put Spurs ahead at the end of a stop-start first half, before Saints levelled through Che Adams early in the second.
Harry Kane and Ivan Perisic then seemed to have put the game beyond Saints, but Theo Walcott earned them a lifeline and Ward-Prowse's emphatic late spot-kick left Spurs reeling.
After a bright start, much of the first half was a disjointed affair impacted by injuries, becoming only the second instance in Premier League history of both teams making two substitutions before half-time.
Saints lost first-choice centre-backs Armel Bella-Kotchap and Jan Bednarek, while Spurs had to take off Richarlison and Ben Davies.
Spurs initially adjusted better, going ahead just before the break as Porro latched on to Son Heung-min's defence-splitting pass and smashed home.
But Adams equalised 43 seconds into the second half, prodding home Walcott's low cross after Romeo Lavia's excellent throughball.
Spurs were back in front with 25 minutes left. Kane rose above two defenders to nod in Dejan Kulusevski's cross, and Perisic's left-footed volley from the edge of the box increased their advantage.
But Walcott's tap-in after 77 minutes offered Saints hope, and the contentious decision to penalise Pape Sarr for an apparent foul on Ainsley Maitland-Niles allowed Ward-Prowse to blast his penalty into the top-right corner.
What does it mean? One step forward and two steps back for Spurs
Spurs fans will just want this season to end as soon as possible. While that may sound a little dramatic, there is no doubt the team's inconsistency is contributing to real frustration in the fanbase.
This contest seemed to encapsulate that perfectly. For sure, Spurs can have reservations about the dubious penalty decision at the end, but the score greatly flattered them at 3-1.
Southampton were the better team for long periods and can argue a point is the least they deserved, whereas Spurs now head into the international break with only a two-point lead over Newcastle, who also have two games in hand.
Porro and Kulusevski link up to good effect
There is clearly plenty of cause for optimism about Spurs' right flank, and this game showcased why.
Not only did Porro get his goal, but he also registered three key passes. The only Spurs player to better that was right-wing colleague Kulusevski (four).
Ward-Prowse leads from the front
This was another inspirational performance from the England international. His five key passes was a match high and he held his nerve impressively at the end, dispatching one of the best penalty kicks you are ever likely to see.
Key Opta Stats: Record equalled for Kane
- Kane has scored nine headed goals in the Premier League this season, equalling Duncan Ferguson's single-season record in the competition from 1997-98.
- No side has conceded more away goals since the Premier League restarted following the World Cup break than Tottenham (14), with Spurs winning just two of their seven games on the road in this period (D2 L3).
- Following goals from Porro and Perisic, Tottenham have now had 162 different scorers in the Premier League, with only West Ham (164) having more.
- Walcott has more Premier League goal involvements (12) and goals (7) against Tottenham than he does against any other opponent.
- Having scored and assisted in this game, Walcott only has more assists against Newcastle (6) than he does against Spurs (5) in the competition.
Saints go to fellow strugglers West Ham on April 2 after the international break, while Spurs are at Everton the following day.