Antonio Conte disappointed after 10-man Southampton keep Tottenham at bay

Italian becomes first Spurs manager to remain unbeaten in first seven league games in charge

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Perhaps it is a sign of the impact Antonio Conte has made that his worst league result in charge of Tottenham still involved coming from behind to take a point away from home.

The Italian became the first Spurs manager to go unbeaten in his first seven league games in charge but he regretted that it was not a fifth victory in the last six. “My demands are very high.” Conte said. "I am used to play to win and for me there is a big disappointment when we don’t win.”

Tottenham played against 10 men in the second half and camped in Southampton territory but a winner eluded them. “You have to try and exploit this type of situation much better than we did,” rued Conte.

They had the ball in the Saints net four times but only Harry Kane’s penalty counted, and after the striker’s injury-time header went wide, Tottenham were condemned to a frustrating draw. “It feels like a defeat,” said the excellent Harry Winks. “We are not happy.”

Southampton, who had beaten West Ham on Sunday, could not complete a capital double but did savour their resilience.

“I am unbelievably proud of what we have done,” said manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. “It was a very big point. No one thought it would happen after the sending off and equaliser before half-time.”

Kyle Walker-Peters defended defiantly a side depleted by Mohammed Salisu’s red card. Full-back Yan Valery stood in valiantly as a centre-back, James Ward-Prowse and forward Adam Armstrong showed a Stakhanovite work ethic in midfield when they did not have the ball and goalkeeper Fraser Forster made a series of fine saves to deny Matt Doherty, Heung-Min Son and Bryan Gil.

He did, however, benefit from a lucky reprieve. When he spilled Winks’ high cross as Matt Doherty challenged him, the ball bounced in off Forster. Referee Anthony Taylor gave a foul but few could identify it.

It was Spurs’ third disallowed goal and if Ben Davies was clearly offside in the first half, Kane had celebrated when he latched on to the excellent Winks’ lovely pass and tucked in a shot. A VAR review later, he was ruled fractionally offside.

And whereas Tottenham had cruised to victory against Crystal Palace on Sunday when their opponents had a first-half red card, there was no repeat. Nor, indeed, was there a sequel to last season’s 5-2 win at St Mary’s, when Kane provided four goals for Son.

But they did concede first again. Tottenham failed to clear Salisu’s long throw and Ward-Prowse hooked in a half-volley with the outside of his right foot. Often a set-piece specialist, he showed he can connect sweetly with a ball in open play to score in a third consecutive game.

Then Salisu’s eventual game came to a premature end. He collected a second yellow card in 13 minutes and if the first, following a handball by Emerson Royal, may have been unfortunate, he had been in reckless mode when he tripped Son in the box after another incisive pass from Winks.

Kane converted his penalty expertly. A scorer of a solitary league goal under Nuno Espirito Santo has three in his last three matches for Conte and he converted his penalty expertly. Then the rearguard action began. Hasenhuttl’s team can specialise in losing leads but he added: “It is a winning point, even though we have dropped two.”

Updated: December 28, 2021, 5:50 PM
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