Sofiane Boufal’s late equaliser gave Southampton a fully-deserved FA Cup fourth-round replay against Tottenham after an entertaining encounter.
Saints’ manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and Spurs counterpart Jose Mourinho made FA Cup statements of intent by selecting strong line-ups – and their teams delivered a game-high on quality, chances and passion.
Spurs looked on their way into the fifth round just before the hour, when Son Heung-min crowned a superb break with a low finish from the excellent Giovani lo Celso’s pass.
Southampton, however, had a succession of chances to equalise, with the man of the moment Danny Ings having a rare off day in front of goal and squandering several opportunities.
Ings never let his head drop for a second and his tireless approach was rewarded when he set up Boufal for a thumping finish high past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris with three minutes left.
Ings has been Southampton’s main marksman this season, leading their revival after October’s humiliating 9-0 home loss to Leicester City.
He has put himself back in England contention with 14 Premier League goals as Saints have risen into the Premier League’s top 10 – and while he would not count this among his best days, he still showed what makes him invaluable to this team.
He could not take several chances that came his way, seeing a first-half effort cleared off the line by Japhet Tanganga, turning Michael Obafemi’s cross agonisingly across the face of goal, shooting inches wide from long-range and then failing to control Nathan Redmond’s cross right in front of goal.
The last opportunity looked to be the end of Saints’ interest in the FA Cup but Ings’ career has been characterised by his exemplary attitude and fighting spirit – and so it proved here.
Ings was the creator for Boufal’s fierce finish, providing evidence as to why he is so regarded as the local hero here.
It was what Saints’ merited, taking the game to Spurs to set up the replay.
Lo Celso’s Spurs career has been something of a slow burner since he arrived on loan from Real Betis but he is winning the hearts and minds of the Spurs fans.
The 23-year-old Argentine had his name sung in deafening fashion by the visiting supporters throughout the second half here as he showed a real creative edge, dovetailing with the pace of Son and Lucas Moura and the driving runs of Dele Alli.
Lo Celso did brilliantly to help create Son’s goal then almost provided a second for the South Korean with a perfect pass that was volleyed just over the top.
It was always going to take time for him to settle but the Spurs fans are developing a liking for his subtlety and ability to influence a game.
Spurs will have mixed feelings about being dragged back just short of the line – they would have liked to avoid the extra congestion of a replay but they also survived a stern test from Southampton.
And Mourinho’s team, showing just three changes from the win over Norwich City, showed his desire to compete fiercely in the FA Cup – as Spurs chase a first trophy since the League Cup win over Chelsea at Wembley in 2008.
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Source – Sport365