Tottenham Hotspur moved up to fourth in the Premier League table after beating Southampton 2-1 at St Mary's in a classic 'game of two halves' contest.
Spurs were sublime in the first-half as they cruised to a 2-0 half-time lead on the back of goals from Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey.
However, the momentum of the game flipped in the second-half as Southampton came to life while Tottenham cowered into their shells, and Jay Rodriguez made things interesting with his first Premier League goal for the Saints in the 68th minute.
The vast majority of the second-half was played in Tottenham's half but Andre Villas-Boas's men hung on for the three points despite the Saints' best efforts.
Tottenham climb above Everton into a Champions League spot with the win but Southampton are second from bottom and their 26 goals conceded is by far the poorest in the Premier League.
Tottenham controlled the opening 45 minutes with a dominant display and they were full value for their two-goal advantage at the break.
Bale gave them the lead in the 15th minute with an expertly directed header into the corner of the net after rushing on to a stood-up cross from Tom Huddlestone. The Welsh international missed last week's defeat to Chelsea to attend the birth of his daughter and celebrated in muted fashion out of respect for his former club.
Aaron Lennon was the creator of the second in the 39th minute as he raced forward from midfield before slipping in a perfectly weighted pass for Jermain Defoe. The England striker then dinked the ball past the outrushing Artur Boruc and the ball trickled towards the goal. Jose Fonte raced back and just reached the ball in time while falling but Dempsey was there to bundle home.
Spurs had other chances in the first half too – Defoe should twice have done better after check-backs from Kyle Walker on the right; Bale was a constant menace down the left; and Lennon nearly benefited from some ropey defending from the hosts after only three minutes.
It was not until three minutes into the second-half that Southampton had their first attempt on goal as Jason Puncheon put a volley wide but then Walker could have killed the game in the 54th minute after being set up by Lennon only to fire wide.
However, the tide was finally starting to turn as Tottenham began sitting back and Maya Yoshida looked all set to put in a header from a couple of yards out but it went off his shoulder and was deflected away for a corner just moments before Southampton finally did score in the 66th minute.
Rodriguez fired in the goal from close range after reacting quickest when Brad Friedel saved a little flick from Fonte at the near post from Adam Lallana's corner.
Southampton adopted a direct style for the rest of the match and Tottenham struggled to cope at times but their defenders did at least do a good job of throwing their bodies on the line to block efforts before they ever really had a chance to trouble Friedel.
The finest example came in stoppage time when the excellent Sandro used his head to deflect away a bullet of a shot from Morgan Schneiderlin.
Ultimately Southampton just didn't have enough guile to break Tottenham down and find an equaliser but it was with relief as much as joy that the visitors greeted the final whistle.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Sandro (Tottenham): One of the few Tottenham players who played at a high level for the entire 90 minutes. The Brazilian helped sweep the ball around the pitch in the first-half and then was a key barrier in front of the defence in the second.
Southampton: Boruc 6, Clyne 6, Fonte 6, Yoshida 6, Fox 5, Schneiderlin 6, S Davis 6, Lallana 6, Puncheon 6, Rodriguez 7, Lambert 6. Subs: Mayuka 7, Guly 6, Reeves 6
Tottenham: Friedel 6, Walker 6, Gallas 7, Caulker 6, Vertoghen 7, Sandro 8, Huddlestone 6, Dempsey 6, Lennon 7, Bale 7, Defoe 5. Subs: Livermore 5, Sigurdsson 6, Dawson 6