A controversial stoppage-time penalty converted by James Ward-Prowse earned bottom club Southampton a 3-3 draw at home to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League after the visitors had led by two goals on Saturday.
Goals by Harry Kane and Ivan Perisic looked to have sealed the points for fourth-placed Tottenham in the second half but Southampton produced an amazing recovery from 3-1 down.
Theo Walcott gave them a lifeline with a close-range finish in the 77th minute shortly after Perisic’s volley appeared to have wrapped up a vital win Tottenham in their bid to finish the season in the top four.
Then in the 90th minute Tottenham substitute Pape Sarr was adjudged to have fouled Ainsley Maitland-Niles as he attempted to hack clear a bouncing ball.
After a lengthy VAR check the penalty was allowed to stand and Ward-Prowse cooly dispatched his spot kick high into the top corner beyond former Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Tottenham, who had taken the lead through Pedro Porro in first-half stoppage time only to concede a Che Adams equaliser just after the break, remain in fourth place with 49 points from 28 games but Newcastle United, in fifth, are only two points adrift with two games in hand.
Southampton remain bottom with 23 points.
The result of an enthralling contest in the south coast sunshine could have huge implications at both ends of the table once the season reaches its climax in May.
While Southampton are running out of games to save themselves, they are showing fight under new manager Ruben Selles and they remain only two points behind the safety zone.
Southampton skipper Ward-Prowse admitted it was a nerve-racking moment when he lined up his penalty against Forster.
“Yes there was a lot of pressure,” he said. “I know Fraser very well, he used to be my next-door neighbour so I’ve taken a few penalties against him in my garden with my little boy, so we have something going on there.”
Tottenham were left kicking themselves at how they threw away two points that would have moved them above Manchester United into third place.
Southampton had played on the front foot and Adams came close to giving them a lead in the opening minutes before both teams suffered injury blows.
Tottenham forward Richarlison lasted only five minutes before being replaced by Dejan Kulusevski and then Southampton defender Armel Bella-Kotchap suffered a shoulder injury and was replaced by Mohammed Salisu.
The visitors went ahead when Son Heung-min’s pass found Porro completely unmarked and he smashed a shot off the underside of the crossbar for his first Spurs goal.
Tottenham switched off straight after the interval and Walcott’s low cross was steered in by Adams.
Kane restored Tottenham’s lead with a trademark header from Kulusevski’s cross and then substitute Perisic connected sweetly with a volley as the ball came to him on the edge of the area.
Tottenham’s fragility returned though and they have now lost league points from two-goals leads twice in 2023.