Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas expected a Saints second half backlash at St Mary’s yesterday because Nigel Adkins’ team “had nothing to lose.”

The Spurs manager saw his side totally dominate the first half and take a 2-0 lead into the break thanks to goals from Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey.

But he felt they were still one short of killing the game and expected the onslaught that his team eventually rode out.

He said: “Obviously I am happy for what we did in the game and certainly it was a good first half.

“We kept the ball well, managed to create lots of opportunities and always looked in control of the game.

"I am extremely happy for that and what we spoke about at half-time was that only a 3-0 scoreline would put a game like this to bed because Southampton had nothing to lose.

"They came out very, very strongly in the second half. As soon as they scored, the game changes and makes it more difficult.

"It was very, very similar to the game we played at Old Trafford when we had an extremely good first half in terms of keeping the ball and playing.

"But in the second half we showed that desire to defend and hold onto the result."

It was a quick turnaround for Tottenham, who were involved in a tough 1-1 Europa League draw at NK Maribor on Thursday.

"We came back late from our trip against Maribor," Villas-Boas said.

"We arrived at 2am in the morning, had two days to recover to play a game like this.

"It required big physical capability and the players really put in the effort.

"It shows a good example of the possibility that you have to play in the Europa League, be available for the Premier League and still be able to win games."

Bale was one of several players not travel to Slovenia, although it was the birth of his first child rather than injury that saw him remain at home.

The Wales international returned to the fold yesterday against the side he began his career with and impressed in the first half at his old stomping ground.

"I am extremely happy for him," Villas-Boas said. "He is a massive player for the team.

"He is a player that can make a different with small opportunities.

"He certainly did that today and scored. It was good for him to be back on the scoresheet.

"He is certainly someone we rate very, very highly and can go all the way to becoming one of the best."