Tottenham Hotspur survived a Southampton fightback to go fourth in the Premier League.
In a one-sided first half, Spurs coasted to a 2-0 lead thanks to Gareth Bale's bouncing header and Clint Dempsey bundling over the line.
But Saints improved after half-time and got back in the game when Jay Rodriguez finished from a tight angle.
Rodriguez and the recalled Rickie Lambert had chances to equalise, but Spurs held on.
The prospect of anything other than a Tottenham win - their first in five visits to St Mary's - looked non-existent at the end of a first period when Southampton's defensive limitations were all too evident.
But, after managing a first shot on Brad Friedel's goal shortly after the interval, the hosts were transformed, creating problems for a Spurs defence that had previously enjoyed a comfortable afternoon.
It was still a shock when Rodriguez pulled a goal back for Nigel Adkins's side.
Maya Yoshida was somehow denied on the Spurs goalline by William Gallas and, from the resulting corner, Rodriguez's flick was well saved by Friedel, before the former Burnley man put away the rebound via the post.
Rodriguez fired wide and Lambert was blocked by Gallas as Saints got on top in the period that followed, but Andre Villas-Boas's side held on to collect three points and bounce back from last week's defeat by Chelsea.
In contrast, Adkins is left to reflect on Saints' seventh defeat of the season, one created by the poor defending that has characterised their return to the Premier League.
Spurs at St Mary's
- Before Gareth Bale opened the scoring, Spurs had not found the net in their five visits to St Mary's. Their last goal away to Southampton was Oyvind Leonhardsen's in a 1-0 win at The Dell in 1999.
Southampton had conceded 24 goals in their opening eight games - the most in the top flight since Wolves in 1963 - and they were again ripped apart as Spurs poured forward in the first half.
Finding space down both flanks, particularly with Kyle Walker overlapping Aaron Lennon on the right, the visitors looked dangerous every time they entered the Saints half.
It was a long ball down the Spurs right that created the opening goal, with Jermain Defoe cutting in to find Tom Huddlestone, whose floated cross was met by Bale's downward header, which bounced into the left-hand corner of Artur Boruc's net.
The goal marked Bale's return both to the Tottenham side and to Southampton, the club he left as a 17-year-old in 2007. The Welshman, who missed his side's last two games following the birth of his first child, did not celebrate.
Although Saints kept the ball well they were not troubling an organised Spurs defence and the question seemed to be when, rather than if, Villas-Boas's men would double their lead.
So it proved, as Lennon was able to run unchallenged from deep inside his own half, before playing a defence-splitting ball into the path of Defoe.
The England striker rolled the ball past Boruc, and the retreating Jose Fonte hacked his second attempt at a clearance into Dempsey, with the ball rebounding off the American into the net.
And the visitors would have been out of sight had Defoe not then wasted three chances, all originating from the Spurs right.
On each occasion he failed to find the target when given time and space to shoot, but it looked to be of no consequence until the Southampton resurgence. As it was, Spurs had just done enough.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas: "It is good for the team to win a difficult game away at Southampton. The first half was extremely good in terms of the football we played. In the second half we had to change the nature of the game, we had to defend much more.
"We're extremely happy for what we did. We played on Thursday and we don't have a lot of players to rotate the squad for all the competitions we want to do well in.
"It's fantastic to see them perform at this level when only a few hours ago we had a game in Slovenia.
"We certainly wanted to get six points from this fixture and the next game against Wigan at home, before we play Manchester City and Arsenal. That week could be important in terms of what we want to do in the league."
- 31 Boruc
- 02 Clyne
- 03 Yoshida
- 06 Fonte
- 13 Fox (Reeves - 79' )
- 04 Schneiderlin
- 08 S Davis (Guly - 78' )
- 20 Lallana
- 42 Puncheon (Mayuka - 58' )
- 07 Lambert
- 09 Rodriguez
- 01 K Davis
- 05 Hooiveld
- 29 Reeves
- 16 Ward-Prowse
- 21 Guly
- 27 Chaplow
- 24 Mayuka
- 24 Friedel
- 05 Vertonghen Booked
- 13 Gallas
- 28 Walker
- 33 Caulker
- 02 Dempsey (Dawson - 90' )
- 06 Huddlestone (Livermore - 63' Booked )
- 07 Lennon
- 11 Bale
- 30 Sandro Booked
- 18 Defoe (Sigurdsson - 78' )
- 25 Lloris
- 16 Naughton
- 20 Dawson
- 22 Sigurdsson
- 27 Falque
- 29 Livermore
- 31 Townsend
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The match has reached full-time.90:00 +3:59
Raniere Sandro fouled by Maya Yoshida, the ref awards a free kick. Michael Dawson takes the direct free kick.90:00 +2:14
Artur Boruc restarts play with the free kick.90:00 +2:14 Substitution
Substitution (Tottenham) makes a substitution, with Michael Dawson coming on for Clint Dempsey.90:00 +2:14 Booking
Booking Jake Livermore receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.90:00 +2:05
Jake Livermore gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adam Lallana.89:35
Guly Do Prado takes a shot. Blocked by William Gallas. Morgan Schneiderlin takes a shot. Blocked by Raniere Sandro.87:05
Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Gareth Bale.86:20
Short corner taken by Gareth Bale from the left by-line.84:52
Morgan Schneiderlin gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gylfi Sigurdsson. Steven Caulker takes the free kick.84:12
Ben Reeves delivers the ball.82:42
Kyle Walker concedes a free kick for a foul on Jay Rodriguez. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Morgan Schneiderlin, clearance by Raniere Sandro.81:00
Jay Rodriguez has an effort at goal from just outside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.79:55
Jake Livermore challenges Morgan Schneiderlin unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Adam Lallana, save made by Brad Friedel.77:16
Kyle Walker takes the free kick.77:16 Substitution
Substitution Ben Reeves joins the action as a substitute, replacing Daniel Fox.77:16 Substitution
Substitution (Southampton) makes a substitution, with Guly Do Prado coming on for Steven Davis.77:16 Substitution
Substitution (Tottenham) makes a substitution, with Gylfi Sigurdsson coming on for Jermain Defoe.77:16
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jay Rodriguez on Kyle Walker.76:26
Daniel Fox delivers the ball, Brad Friedel makes a save.
Rickie Lambert sends in a cross, Steven Caulker makes a clearance.74:15
Daniel Fox crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing.74:15 Booking
Booking Jan Vertonghen receives a caution.74:06
Jan Vertonghen concedes a free kick for a foul on Emmanuel Mayuka.73:52
The ball is delivered by Kyle Walker, Artur Boruc makes a save.73:23
Centre by Kyle Walker, clearance by Maya Yoshida.72:04
Adam Lallana takes a shot. Blocked by Steven Caulker.71:40
Gareth Bale takes a shot. Comfortable save by Artur Boruc.70:13
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Daniel Fox, clearance made by Jan Vertonghen.69:53
Rickie Lambert takes a shot. Blocked by William Gallas.69:18
Free kick awarded for a foul by Adam Lallana on Clint Dempsey. Steven Caulker takes the free kick.68:45
Jay Rodriguez produces a left-footed shot from deep inside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.65:42
The assist for the goal came from Jose Fonte.65:42 Goal scored
Goal! - Jay Rodriguez - Southamp'n 1 - 2 Tottenham Jay Rodriguez gets on the score sheet with a goal from close range to the top left corner of the goal. Southampton 1-2 Tottenham.65:40
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Daniel Fox from the right by-line,64:27
Daniel Fox delivers the ball, Jose Fonte takes a shot. William Gallas manages to make a clearance.64:27 Booking
Booking Raniere Sandro is shown a yellow card.64:15
Raniere Sandro concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Davis.62:37 Substitution
Substitution Tom Huddlestone leaves the field to be replaced by Jake Livermore.59:58
Rickie Lambert sends in a cross, Jay Rodriguez has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.58:34
Nathaniel Clyne crosses the ball, save by Brad Friedel.57:44 Substitution
Substitution Emmanuel Mayuka joins the action as a substitute, replacing Jason Puncheon.57:25
Shot from just outside the box by Tom Huddlestone misses to the right of the goal.56:35
Centre by Jan Vertonghen, Maya Yoshida manages to make a clearance.55:20
Aaron Lennon is adjudged to have handled the ball. Morgan Schneiderlin restarts play with the free kick.53:38
Effort from inside the area by Kyle Walker misses to the right of the target.52:26
Daniel Fox produces a left-footed effort from long distance that goes harmlessly over the bar.52:06
Daniel Fox sends in a cross, Steven Caulker makes a clearance.51:46
Kyle Walker challenges Adam Lallana unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Daniel Fox.50:37
Centre by Jermain Defoe, Jose Fonte manages to make a clearance.48:02
Jason Puncheon has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.47:04
Kyle Walker sends in a cross, Jermain Defoe produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the bar.46:09
Daniel Fox sends in a cross, save made by Brad Friedel.45:32
The referee penalises Clint Dempsey for handball. Steven Davis takes the free kick.45:01
The referee gets the second half underway.45:00 +1:10 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.45:00 +0:46
Rickie Lambert gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aaron Lennon. Free kick taken by Kyle Walker.45:00 +0:30
The ball is crossed by Nathaniel Clyne, William Gallas manages to make a clearance.44:34
The ball is delivered by Jason Puncheon, clearance by Steven Caulker.43:01
Steven Davis challenges Gareth Bale unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jan Vertonghen restarts play with the free kick.38:49
Assist by Jermain Defoe.38:49 Goal scored
Goal! - Clint Dempsey - Southamp'n 0 - 2 Tottenham Clint Dempsey grabs a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Southampton 0-2 Tottenham.38:45
Jermain Defoe takes a shot. Clearance by Jose Fonte.37:50
Jermain Defoe produces a cross.36:36
Unfair challenge on Kyle Walker by Adam Lallana results in a free kick. Kyle Walker takes the free kick.35:49
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gareth Bale by Morgan Schneiderlin. Tom Huddlestone takes the free kick.34:56
The referee blows for offside against Jermain Defoe. Indirect free kick taken by Artur Boruc.34:08
The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Artur Boruc.33:07
The referee blows for offside against Clint Dempsey. Artur Boruc takes the free kick.32:33
Maya Yoshida concedes a free kick for a foul on Clint Dempsey. Tom Huddlestone takes the direct free kick.31:12
Unfair challenge on Steven Davis by Raniere Sandro results in a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Daniel Fox from right channel, clearance made by Jan Vertonghen.30:29
Foul by Daniel Fox on Aaron Lennon, free kick awarded. William Gallas restarts play with the free kick.27:25
Shot on goal by Jermain Defoe from just inside the area clears the crossbar.25:36
Foul by Morgan Schneiderlin on Gareth Bale, free kick awarded. Jan Vertonghen takes the free kick.25:00
The assistant referee signals for offside against Gareth Bale. Artur Boruc takes the free kick.23:30
Gareth Bale sends in a cross, clearance by Daniel Fox. Corner taken by Tom Huddlestone from the right by-line, Gareth Bale produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.21:21
Adam Lallana crosses the ball, Brad Friedel makes a save.19:05
Morgan Schneiderlin gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Clint Dempsey. Clint Dempsey restarts play with the free kick.17:39
Free kick awarded for a foul by Steven Davis on Clint Dempsey. William Gallas takes the free kick.16:47
Unfair challenge on Jose Fonte by Jermain Defoe results in a free kick. Jose Fonte takes the direct free kick.14:46
Tom Huddlestone provided the assist for the goal.14:46 Goal scored
Goal! - Gareth Bale - Southamp'n 0 - 1 Tottenham Gareth Bale grabs a headed goal from deep inside the penalty box. Southampton 0-1 Tottenham.13:59
The ball is delivered by Kyle Walker, Shot by Jermain Defoe from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.13:13
Rickie Lambert is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Steven Caulker.8:53
Adam Lallana gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aaron Lennon. Free kick crossed right-footed by Tom Huddlestone from right wing, Rickie Lambert manages to make a clearance.8:26
The ball is crossed by Gareth Bale.7:26
The ball is sent over by Nathaniel Clyne.6:06
The assistant referee signals for offside against Rickie Lambert. Indirect free kick taken by Brad Friedel.5:28
Daniel Fox crosses the ball, clearance by Jan Vertonghen.5:01
The assistant referee flags for offside against Jermain Defoe. Jose Fonte restarts play with the free kick.4:03
Rickie Lambert is ruled offside. Brad Friedel takes the free kick.2:12
Effort on goal by Aaron Lennon from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.0:19
Handball by Jay Rodriguez. Brad Friedel restarts play with the free kick.0:00
The match begins.
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