LONDON (AP) — Tottenham recovered quickly from going a goal down and routed Southampton 4-1 in their English Premier League opener Saturday to show the team's new strength in depth.
Attacking duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min failed to get on the scoresheet, but it was fellow forward Dejan Kulusevski who orchestrated the comeback.
The Sweden international set up the equalizer for Ryan Sessegnon before he slotted the fourth goal himself after the break, following an Eric Dier header and Mohammed Salisu’s own goal.
It backed up the growing anticipation around Antonio Conte’s side, which has been tipped by many to join champion Manchester City and Liverpool in the title race.
James Ward-Prowse put Saints into an early lead, but the hosts regrouped immediately to start the new campaign in strong fashion, even though none of their six new signings made the starting lineup.
It took 12 minutes for the first legitimate chance to present itself and Southampton took full advantage to open the scoring through Ward-Prowse.
Moussa Djenepo got away from Emerson Royal down the left and chipped back to the edge of the area where Ward-Prowse fired home on the volley, his effort bouncing into the ground and beating Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.
The hosts trailed for only nine minutes.
After Southampton had dealt with a number of early crosses into the area, they had little answer in the 21st minute when Kulusevski checked back onto his left foot and curled in for Sessegnon, who leapt above Kyle Walker-Peters to power home the equalizer.
Conte’s team completed the turnaround in the 31st through another unlikely source.
Son saw his initial corner cleared but soon received possession back and produced a fine inswinging delivery, which proved perfect for Dier to stoop low and head on into the bottom corner to make it 2-1.
Sessegnon had the ball in the net again immediately after halftime but his finish with his right foot was ruled out due to offside.
Tottenham should have already been two goals to the good with Kane denied by Bazunu before the break and Son wasteful from six yards when he could have passed to his teammate.
While the pair scored 40 goals between them in the league last season, it was Kulusevski who took center stage on this occasion.
The Swede nearly set up Sessegnon again with a delicious pass before the third arrived for the hosts in the 61st.
Emerson led a counterattack and exchanged passes with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Son before his scuffed cross was put through his own net by an off-balance Salisu.
Kulusevski saved the best until last when he latched onto Emerson’s cutback, opened up his body and curled into the bottom corner to make it 4-1 and give Spurs a second goal in the space of two minutes.
Conte made a quadruple substitution late on and gave Ivan Perisic, Clement Lenglet and Yves Bissouma their debuts.
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The Associated Press