Tottenham began their new Premier League season with a comfortable 4-1 home win over Southampton, despite the visitors taking a surprise lead.
Saints went ahead in the 12th minute through James Ward-Prowse’s superb downward volley but Tottenham equalised just nine minutes later as Ryan Sessegnon scored his first Premier League for Spurs with a back-post header.
Antonio Conte’s side then took the lead in the 31st minute as Eric Dier’s clever glancing header – his first goal in three years – saw Spurs take a half-time lead.
A comical own goal from Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu in the 61st minute gave Spurs their third of the afternoon.
Dejan Kulusevski then added a fourth with a neat curling finish to move Tottenham top of the table on goal difference.
With Richarlison suspended and other new recruits still building up to full fitness, there was a familiar look to the Spurs XI, albeit with two unfamiliar names on the scoresheet.
Sessegnon and Dier have been two of the biggest beneficiaries of the Conte era, and both took their headers well to put Tottenham in front – the more predictable sources of Son and Kulusevski producing moments of quality to tee up both defenders.
This was the first time Tottenham have played a home Premier League game at 3pm on Saturday in 973 days, since beating Burnley 5-0 in December 2019, and the first time they have begun a season in this kick-off slot for more than 20 years.
Rarely in those two decades has there been as much optimism in north London and that is unlikely to have been dampened by what for the most part was a confident and entertaining performance.
Sessegnon also had an effort ruled out for offside immediately after the break and opposite wing-back Royal’s low ball forced Salisu into an own goal, before the Brazilian teed up Kulusevski to find the bottom corner two minutes later.
The focus at Southampton has been on youth this summer after signing six players with just two over the age of 20, but it was Saints’ Mr Reliable – and last season’s top scorer Ward-Prowse – who got Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side off to a superb start.
That hope was short lived for the visitors who, as well as having the worst opening-day record of all current Premier League teams, finished last season with four successive defeats and did little to rid themselves of that hangover in north London.
Meanwhile, Southampton are bottom having won just one of their last 13 league games since March.