Dele Alli scored twice as Tottenham maintained their challenge for a Champions League spot with victory over 10-man Southampton.
Saints took the lead in the second minute when defender Virgil van Dijk demonstrated his aerial threat by nodding in James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick.
The visitors were level just before midway in the half when Alli out-jumped Van Dijk to direct Moussa Sissoko’s deflected cross past keeper Fraser Forster.
Shortly after the break, Harry Kane ended his run of three league games without a goal when he headed in from Christian Eriksen’s corner in the 52nd minute.
And the England forward should have extended his side’s advantage moments later when Southampton’s Nathan Redmond brought down Alli in the area to concede a penalty and earn a red card. However Kane fired the spot-kick over the bar.
The sending off changed the complexion of the match as Spurs took advantage of the extra space, with both substitute Son Heung-Min and Alli firing in low strikes to put gloss on the win.
Was it a red card?
There was confusion on social media as to whether Redmond’s foul on Alli warranted a red card in the 57th minute.
The Saints midfielder pulled back his Spurs counterpart in the area which prompted referee Mike Dean to point to the spot. The official then, after a delay, sent the England Under-21 international off.
Under new rules, had Redmond tried to win the ball with a tackle he would have received just a caution. However, the pull meant it was both a penalty and red card offence.
Kane & Alli send message to rivals
The England internationals scored 35 league goals between them last season as Spurs finished third – and they are on course to emulate that feat this campaign.
Alli led the way against what was the third meanest defence in the league coming into the match.
He brought Spurs back into the contest with a majestic leap above 6ft 4in Van Dijk to nod Sissoko’s delivery past Forster. And showed composure to fire past the England keeper in the closing minutes.
Kane had the second fewest touches of all outfield players in the first half, but after the break the 23-year-old scored with his first effort on target when he headed in from Eriksen’s set-piece in the 52nd minute.
He should have added his ninth league goal of the season soon after but his standing foot slipped as he fired over from the penalty spot.
After the match, Kane suggested a brand new square of turf on the penalty spot might have been the cause for his miss.
Southampton are at home to West Brom on Saturday (15:00 GMT) and Tottenham are at Watford on New Year’s Day (13:30 GMT).
More to follow.