Tottenham Hotspur rode their luck to reach the FA Cup fifth round as Son Heung-min’s late penalty sealed a 3-2 victory in a rip-roaring replay against Southampton on Wednesday.
As in the 2-0 Premier League win against Manchester City at the weekend Jose Mourinho’s side were often outplayed but showed character to set up a home tie with Norwich City.
South Korean Son has often been the go-to player when lead striker Harry Kane is injured and again he stepped up to convert in the 87th minute after being taken down by keeper Angus Gunn in a frenetic finale.
Son’s conversion was his 11th goal in the FA Cup since the start of the 2016-17 season — more than any other player.
It was tough on Southampton who deserved more, according to Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho.
“I have to be honest and say I think the best team lost on the pitch but my team were the ones with more heart and went to their limit,” said the Portuguese, whose one FA Cup triumph came with Chelsea in 2007.
“So many difficulties to even build a team, the options were not options to change the game. My team to deserved to win — but the best team lost.”
Southampton played nearly all the football after unluckily falling behind in the 12th minute when Jack Stephens attempted to block Tanguy N’dombele’s off-target shot but only deflected it past a helpless Gunn.
Ralph Hasenhuettl’s side responded in dynamic fashion with Danny Ings smashing a shot against the bar after 18 minutes.
They did level after 34 minutes when Shane Long netted from close range after Hugo Lloris parried the ball into his path after a smart turn and low shot by Nathan Redmond.
Southampton’a James Ward-Prowse was carried off five minutes before halftime with a knee injury but they dominated possession after the break as Tottenham were reduced to playing on the counter-attack.
One of those should have seen Spurs reclaim the lead when Son crossed for Lucas Moura but he headed wide.
With both sides throwing caution to the wind in search of victory it was Southampton who appeared to be heading through when a superb forward foray by Redmond ended with Ings cutting in and slotting a clinical right-foot shot past Hugo Lloris.
Roared on by the home crowd Tottenham drew level when Moura danced through the Southampton defence and fired a low shot into the corner.
With extra time beckoning Dele Alli played in Son who dummied Gunn but tumbled under minimal contact.
A short VAR check confirmed the penalty and Son coolly dispatched the spot-kick.
Mourinho praises patched-up Spurs after Cup win
Tottenham Hotspur battled into the FA Cup fifth round with a barely deserved 3-2 win over Southampton on Wednesday as manager Jose Mourinho bemoaned his dwindling options due to the absence of key players.
Already missing long-term injury victims Moussa Sissoko and Harry Kane, plus new signing Steven Bergwijn who was ineligible, the Portuguese had to field France midfielder Tanguy Ndombele who is not yet ready for 90 minutes after a few minor niggles.
Dele Alli was only fit enough for a place on the bench after a late tackle on Sunday by his England team mate Raheem Sterling in Tottenham’s 2-0 Premier League win over Manchester City left him nursing a sore ankle, although he did come on after an hour.
But if Mourinho’s teams have anything it is the ability to dig out a result against the run of play and his new Spurs side are showing admirable levels of resolve to grind out victories.
After he admitted the best team had lost a thrilling Cup tie at the Tottenham Stadium, Mourinho praised his players for their determination to get themselves out of a hole against a counter-attacking Southampton side who were always dangerous.
Spurs, having led through a Jack Stephens own goal, found themselves behind after strikes by Shane Long and Danny Ings but Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min with a penalty snatched the win.
“We were really in trouble. Lots of fatigue after the match against City. They were better than us, stronger physically, faster than us. They pressed, they had intensity, they had chances. They were the best team,” Mourinho told reporters.
“My players were phenomenal. The way they reacted was fantastic. Incredible soul, incredible heart, great connection with the crowd and they gave absolutely everything. So I think the best team lost but we deserved to win.”
Mourinho, who said the club’s lengthening injury list was making it a difficult season, will grant his players an extra day off after their efforts, although there is no time for the sort of winter break being enjoyed by rival teams.
Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso was missing with a thigh problem and forward Erik Lamela with a groin issue, adding to Mourinho’s selection headache but his side rode their luck to reach the fifth round where they have a home tie against Norwich City.
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