By George Sessions, PA
Tottenham recovered from going a goal down to impressively dispatch of Southampton 4-1 in their Premier League opener and show their new strength in depth.
Deadly duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min failed to get on the scoresheet, but it was fellow attacker Dejan Kulusevski who stole the show in London.
Sweden international Kulusevski set up the equaliser for Ryan Sessegnon before he fired home a brilliant fourth after the break in between an Eric Dier header and Mohammed Salisu’s own goal.
It backed up the growing anticipation around Antonio Conte’s side, who have been tipped by many to join champions Manchester City and Liverpool in the title race this season.
When James Ward-Prowse put Saints into a shock early lead, those predictions appeared wide of the mark but the hosts regrouped immediately to start the new campaign in strong fashion.
Tottenham’s impressive and swift transfer business had created plenty of excitement amongst fans but none of their six new signings made the starting line-up.
Visiting boss Ralph Hasenhuttl had no such hesitation in throwing in his summer additions with former Manchester City youngsters Gavin Bazunu and teenager Romeo Lavia both in from the off while Joe Aribo also debuted.
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 his captain Ward-Prowse fired home on the volley, his effort bouncing into the ground and beating Spurs skipper Hugo Lloris.
The hosts reacted well to conceding though and only trailed for 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 wonderfully curled in for Sessegnon, who leapt above Kyle Walker-Peters to power home the equaliser.
It was only the second goal the left wing-back had scored for Spurs since a big-money move from Fulham three summers ago.
Conte’s team kept their foot on the gas and completed the turnaround in the 31st minute through another unlikely source.
Son saw his initial corner cleared, after Bazunu thwarted his left-footed effort moments earlier, 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 half-time but his excellent 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 partner in crime.
This man 😍 pic.twitter.com/9toEXegz9G
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 6, 2022
While the pair scored 40 goals between them in the Premier League last season, it was Kulusevski who took centre 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 minute.
Emerson led a counter-attack 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 cut back, opened up his body and curled into the bottom corner with aplomb 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 to further whet the appetite for Tottenham supporters on a fine opening day.