Tottenham 4-1 Southampton: Antonio Conte’s side run riot in their opening game

Antonio Conte’s Tottenham run riot against Southampton in their opening game as Ryan Sessegnon, Eric Dier, Dejan Kulusevski and Mohammed Salisu’s own-goal cancel out James Ward-Prowse’s early opener

  • Tottenham thrashed Southampton in their opening Premier League game on Saturday afternoon
  • Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side took the lead through James Ward-Prowse’s superb volley after 12 minutes
  • Ryan Sessegnon put Tottenham level with a header before defender Eric Dier scored a header
  • Southampton’s Mohammed Salisu guided the ball into his own net to extend the hosts’ lead 61 minutes in
  • Dejan Kulusevski added a fourth with an excellent finish into the bottom corner just two minutes later

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Though not nearly as comfortable as the scoreline might suggest this would have been the sort of afternoon Antonio Conte had in mind when he talked on the eve of the season about dreaming.

Tottenham hit four and took the points without ever finding their most fluent rhythm and could have scored more against Southampton, who took an early lead but were punished for their vulnerability in defence.

Ryan Sessegnon, Eric Dier and Dejan Kulusevski were on the target after James Ward-Prowse’s opener, although the crucial third goal for Spurs came courtesy of a comical own goal by Mohammed Salisu.

Tottenham thrashed Southampton 4-1 at home in their opening Premier League game on Saturday afternoon

Ralph Hasenhuttl's side took the lead through James Ward-Prowse's superb volley after 12 minutes

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side took the lead through James Ward-Prowse’s superb volley after 12 minutes

Defender Eric Dier put Tottenham level with a header from Son Heung-min's cross just after 31 minutes

Defender Eric Dier put Tottenham level with a header from Son Heung-min’s cross just after 31 minutes

MATCH FACTS & RATINGS

Spurs 343: Lloris 6; Romero 6.5, Dier 7.5, Davies 7 (Lenglet 86); Royal 7 (Doherty 86), Hojbjerg 6.5, Bentancur 7 (Bissouma 86), Sessegnon 8 (Perisic 66, 6); Kulusevski 7.5 (Moua 86), Kane 6, Son 6.

Subs: Forster, Spence, Sanchez, Gil.

Scorers: Sessegnon 21, Dier 31, Salissu OG 61,

Bookings: Sessegnon, Bentancur, Bissouma

Manager: Antonio Conte 7

Southampton 352: Bazunu 5.5; Valery 6 (Stephens 46, 6), Bednarek 6, Salisu 5; Walker-Peters 6 (Redmond 90+), Ward-Prowse 6.5, Lavia 6.5, Romeu 6 (Diallo 75, 5), Djenepo 6 (Perraud 72, 5); Aribo 6, A Armstrong 5 (S Armstrong 46, 5).

Subs: McCarthy, Adams, Elyounoussi, Bella-Kotchap

Scorers: Ward-Prowse 12

Bookings:

Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl 5

Ref: Andre Marriner 6.5

Att: 61,732

Conte’s team could have scored more in a fluent and open game but this was a perfect start.

Tottenham took only one point from Saints last season and perhaps feared the worst when Ward-Prowse struck in the 12th minute.

Moussa Djnepo twisted Emerson Royal inside and out and clipped the ball back to Ward-Prowse, unmarked on the edge of the penalty area, who applied a clean and accurate volley that skidded into the turf and spun beyond the dive of Hugo Lloris.

Conte has an array of options at right wing-back and this was not an ideal start for Royal, whose next contribution was a desperate dive in a bid to win a penalty at the other end. Referee Andre Marriner was having none of it, and quite rightly.

The Brazilian was fortunate not to be booked. Another chance fell to the visitors as Spurs searched for their rhythm. Cristian Romero’s poor defensive header dropped to Adam Armstrong on the half volley. He snatched at it, dragging it wide.

It was not an easy chance but Armstrong was cross with himself. He understood the value of a two-goal lead. Hasenhuttl, dressed up in his wedding reception finery, must have thought the same judging by his anguished reaction on the touchline.

Tottenham took the hint and assumed control. Sessegnon levelled, stealing in to beat Kyle Walker-Peters in the air at the back-post and head Dejan Kulusevski’s wonderful teasing cross past Gavin Bazunu, making his debut in goal for Southampton.

Sessegnon took a personal trainer to Portugal for a week before pre-season, in a bid to bulk up and impress Conte by competing for his place with new signing Ivan Perisic by recapturing the form that made him one of the most in-demand young players in the country when he moved across London from Fulham.

His first Premier League goal for Spurs was a good way to start and he went on to produce arguably his best performance for the club, always threatening in attack. This, however, was not enough to prevent Conte replacing him with his first substitute, Ivan Perisic.

Bazunu saved from Heung-min Son on the half-hour before Southampton slipped behind from the resulting corner, which they cleared only to find the home side recycle possession. Son curled in a cross from the left and Dier escaped his marker to glance a header into the net.

From here, Tottenham stretched away, with Conte. Bazunu made saves from Ben Davies and Harry Kane before the interval and Sesegnon had a goal ruled out for offside, seconds after the restart.

Royal made excellent use of his room for improvement in the second half, heading one chance over and then forcing the third after a slick counter-attack.

Salisu chased back as Royal drove forward, traded and passes squared with a low cross from the left, and the Saints defender seemed certain to clear the danger with a simple side-footer, only to somehow miscue and the ball and slice it off his heel and into the net.

Tottenham accepted the gift and promptly added a fourth. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg released Royal on another raid down the right. The Brazilian picked out Kulusevski and the Swede jinked onto his left foot and curled a shot inside the far post.

The points were safe, even if Conte’s team did get careless as the parade of late subtitutions rolled on. Djenepo and Romain Perraud fired good chances over and Lloris foiled Joe Aribo

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