March 19 (Reuters) - Second-placed Tottenham Hotspur kept up the distant chase of Premier League leaders Chelsea with a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Southampton to cut the gap to 10 points on Sunday.
Tottenham coped well without injured 19-goal striker Harry Kane with Christian Eriksen’s superb 14th-minute shot putting them ahead before Dele Alli stroked home a first-half penalty.
James Ward-Prowse pulled a goal back after the break but Tottenham held on for a 10th successive home league victory -- their longest run since they won 14 in a row in 1987.
Tottenham’s 59 points is their best performance after 28 games of a top-flight season since they won the league and FA Cup double in 1960-61.
Impressive as they are, Tottenham’s hopes of reeling in Chelsea look slim although they are seven points above fifth-placed Manchester United and nine ahead of bitter north London rivals Arsenal in the battle for a top-four finish.
“I think it was a great opportunity today,” manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters. “Yes, you will always miss your main striker but what we can do if he is injured is to win the game and score goals. (It) was fantastic to keep our place in the table.”
Questions had been asked about how Tottenham would cope without Kane, who injured his ankle in the 6-0 FA Cup win over Millwall last week, but they were answered after 14 minutes when Mousa Dembele found Eriksen and the Dane looked up and flashed a low shot beyond Fraser Forster.
Southampton striker Manolo Gabbiadini was inches away from an equaliser with a shot that skimmed the side-netting but the Italian limped off shortly afterwards with a groin injury.
As he was trudging off in the 30th minute Dele Alli was fouled in the area by Southampton skipper Steven Davis and Alli picked himself up to stroke home a penalty to put Spurs two up.
It was no cruise though for the hosts as Southampton halved the deficit six minutes after the break when former Saints defender Toby Alderweireld failed to cut out Nathan Redmond’s cross and Ward-Prowse prodded a shot past Hugo Lloris.
Tottenham were edgy after that as Southampton sensed a route back in but despite their prodigious work-rate the visitors could not carve out many goalscoring chances.
Substitute Vincent Janssen nearly calmed Tottenham’s jitters with a ferocious blast that Forster beat away while at the other end Sofiane Boufal rifled a shot just wide in the last minute.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis and Clare Fallon