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Sigurdsson winner caps superb Spurs fightback Saints stunned

LONDON, March 23, (AFP): Christian Eriksen scored twice before substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson’s stoppage-time goal saw Tottenham Hotspur come from 2-0 down to beat Southampton 3-2 in the Premier League at White Hart Lane on Sunday. This dramatic victory saw Tim Sherwood’s side keep their hopes of Champions League football alive as they moved up into fifth place, albeit still six points behind fourth-placed Arsenal and having played a game more than their north London rivals. It looked as if it would be ninth-placed Southampton who would be climbing up the table when the visitors went 2-0 up through goals from England duo Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana. But before half-time Spurs pulled one back through Eriksen and just 44 seconds into the second half the Dane brought the teams level with his second goal. It seemed the match was heading for a draw when, deep into stoppage time, Sigurdsson struck to complete Spurs’ comeback.

“After we started the game like we did, there is a lot of character in the team shown in the way we bounced back,” Sigurdsson told Sky Sports. “It’s better to be 1-0 or 2-0 down and come back and win 3-2 at home.” Eriksen added: “We got a little speech at half-time and in the second half we were new guys. We try to play like the manager (Sherwood) wanted, we showed it way more in the second half than the first half.” Disappointed Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino lamented what he saw as decisions that didn’t go the way of the south coast club. “The first half we were dominating, 2-0 up, and the referee decisions that did not go our way and the decision before the second goal changed the dynamic of the game,” he said. “Tottenham are a team that are equipped to win the Premier League, we are a young team, there is a long-term project for us but despite that it was an even-sided game and we were disappointed with today’s result.”

In front of the watching Roy Hodgson, Rodriguez pressed his case for inclusion in the England manager’s World Cup squad by giving the Saints a 19th minute lead. Spurs right-back Kyle Naughton misjudged Artur Boruc’s long goal-kick downfield, ducking under the ball to allow Rodriguez a clear run on goal. The Saints star still had work to do but made no mistake with a precise finish into the far corner, beyond the reach of Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. And fewer than 10 minutes later, Southampton were 2-0 up after another Naughton error. Naughton failed to control the ball as Spurs looked to clear a corner and his mistake allowed Saints striker Rickie Lambert to take possession on the edge of the box. Lambert’s neat control and precise pass released fellow England international Lallana on the overlap and the midfielder made no mistake. Southampton were now 2-0 up in the 28th minute, with Tottenham looking anything but the side that had given Benfica a scare in midweek during a 2-2 draw in Lisbon that nevertheless saw them eliminated on aggregate from the Europa Cup.

But three minutes later, Tottenham pulled a goal back. And this time it was Southampton’s right-back Nathaniel Clyne, who played a key role by letting a seemingly harmless cross go under his feet and so leaving Eriksen with a simple finish at the far post. No sooner had the second half kicked off then Spurs were level. Spurs striker Roberto Soldado shrugged off the challenge of Dejan Lovren and pulled back for Eriksen, who turned the ball in from close range. Eriksen then had a chance to complete a hat-trick but, under pressure, blasted the ball high over the crossbar. But Tottenham got the third goal they’d been seeking when, two minutes into the four added on at the end of normal time, Sigurdsson, on as a half-time substitute for Mousa Dembele, struck. Jose Fonte headed out a deep ball into the box and Erkiksen laid it into the path of Sigurdsson, whose 20-yard shot went low and fast past the right hand of the diving Boruc and into the bottom corner.

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