London (AFP) – Steven Davis added to Tottenham’s misery in the aftermath of their failed Premier League title challenge as the Southampton midfielder’s double sealed a 2-1 win on Sunday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side had gifted the crown to Leicester after squandering the lead in successive draws against West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea and their gloom deepened after another self-inflicted setback at White Hart Lane.
Having taken an early lead through South Korea midfielder Son Heung-Min, Tottenham were on course to effectively guarantee a second place finish.
But a mistake from Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris allowed Davis to equalise before half-time and the Northern Ireland international struck again after the break to leave the north Londoners without a win in their last three matches.
Pochettino’s men remain three points ahead of third placed Arsenal, who were due to face Manchester City later on Sunday, and, with a vastly superior goal difference to the Gunners, they can still finish above their bitter rivals for the first time since 1994-95 if they win at struggling Newcastle in their final game of the season.
“We needed to be more solid and show more consistency. We lacked this today. I’m disappointed but we’re still fighting,” Pochettino said.
“It’s important to finish second. There was no hangover from last week, but we still need to learn a lot of things.”
Sixth placed Southampton remain in the hunt for a Europa League place and will surpass their best points total in the division with a draw in their final fixture against Crystal Palace.
After the acrimonious scenes at Stamford Bridge on Monday, where Tottenham’s players reacted with ugly aggression to their costly draw against Chelsea, the sight of Leicester hoisting the Premier League trophy amid champagne fuelled celebrations on Saturday rubbed further salt into their wounds.
And Tottenham’s regret at failing to win the title for the first time since 1961 was compounded by another meltdown in the north London sunshine.
– Composure –
Christian Eriksen almost opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he met Danny Rose’s cross with a poked effort on the stretch that Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster managed to push away.
They took the lead in the 16th minute thanks to the energy and efficiency of Son.
Taking possession 30 yards from goal, Son clipped a pass to Eriksen, then surged into the penalty area to take the return.
Showing tremendous composure, Son jinked around Forster, who paid the price for coming ponderously off his line, and a trio of defenders before slotting into the empty net for his eighth goal of the season.
However, Tottenham’s inability to protect a lead proved their Achilles heel in the title race and so it proved again when the visitors equalised in the 31st minute.
This was an especially vexing goal as Tottenham’s defence went missing, allowing Dusan Tadic to control Cuco Martina’s long pass and cross to Davis.
Even so, Davis’s soft low shot from close-range appeared routine for Lloris, but the France international somehow allowed it to slip under his hand and into the net.
Although that sucked the spark from Tottenham, they should still have been back ahead just before half-time.
Harry Kane, the league’s top scorer with 25 goals, had a chance to move closer to the Golden Boot when he shrugged off Jose Fonte, only for Forster to block his strike from an acute angle.
Shane Long was inches away from putting Southampton in front soon after the interval when he glanced a header wide from Tadic’s cross.
Tottenham came close through a Jan Vertonghen header that was looping in until Virgil van Dijk flicked it off the line.
But that escape spurred Southampton forward and, with the hosts wilting in the heat, they went ahead in the 72nd minute.
After playing a one-two with Tadic, Davis nimbly moved past Eric Dier before hitting a low shot that trickled into the far corner past Lloris.
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