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By Mike Collett
LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a stoppage-time winner after Christian Eriksen's double as Tottenham Hotspur hit back from 2-0 down to beat Southampton 3-2 in the Premier League on Sunday.
Sigurdsson converted Denmark midfielder Eriksen's layoff to keep alive Spurs lingering hopes of a top-four finish.
They are fifth on 56 points, six behind fourth-placed Arsenal having played one more match.
"You have to find a way to win, it wasn't free-flowing, it wasn't fantastic football but at the end of the day you have to find a way to win," Spurs manager Tim Sherwood told reporters.
"We have come back and on the back of two or three really poor results, we have shown character and that's what I am looking for."
In Sunday's other match, Stoke City came from behind to beat Aston Villa 4-1 at Villa Park to climb to 10th in the table on 37 points from 31 matches, one place and three points above their opponents.
The 10 goals scored on Sunday took the weekend's tally to 42, the most in the Premier League since December 2012.
Southampton, boasting several young players vying for spots in World Cup squad, dominated the opening period with delightful one-touch football and mistakes from Spurs right back Kyle Naughton enabled them to take a 2-0 lead after 28 minutes.
Jay Rodriguez pounced on a loose ball after Naughton misjudged a clearance in the sunshine from goalkeeper Artur Boruc, placing a perfect angled shot wide of Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris for his 15th goal of the season.
Naughton's next mistake, when he failed to clear on the edge of his own box, allowed Adam Lallana to plant the ball past Lloris for Southampton's second.
England manager Roy Hodgson, watching in the stands, would have noted both goals from the squad hopefuls with interest.
Another mistake, this time from Saints right back Nathaniel Clyne allowed Spurs back into the game four minutes later when he let a cross from Naughton under his studs allowing the ball to run on to Eriksen who slammed in from close range.
Within a minute of the restart Spurs were level when Roberto Soldado out-muscled defender Dejan Lovren before crossing for Eriksen to score from point-blank range.
Sigurdsson, a halftime substitute for Moussa Dembele, completed the comeback with a fierce low drive.
"We were 2-0 up and were heavily punished for some mistakes, but we deserved more against a very good Tottenham side," lamented Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino.
"Their second goal immediately after halftime changed the dynamics of the game completely and we need to deal with that sort of thing better."
Belgium striker Christian Benteke put Villa in front after five minutes when he crashed the ball into the roof of the net after smart build-up play.
But Mark Hughes's Stoke equalised after 26 minutes when Peter Odemwingie raced on to Peter Crouch's headed knockdown and fired the ball past Brad Guzan.
Crouch, a one-time Villa player, side-footed Stoke ahead and, after more haphazard Villa defending, Steven N'Zonzi provided a clinical finish from the edge of the box on 42 minutes.
American Geoff Cameron added the fourth a minute from time.
"We have been waiting some time for an away win," Hughes, whose side recorded only their second away league victory of the season and their first since September, told Sky Sports.
"I always felt we'd be stronger in the second half of the season. We're enjoying it, we've got seven games to go and want to finish with a flourish."
Defeat for Villa, who beat leaders Chelsea 1-0 last weekend, leaves them in 11th on 34 points from 30 matches and manager Paul Lambert was unhappy with his side's performance.
"We were second best," he said. "That wasn't good enough. We got off to a good start, going ahead after five minutes.
"The Chelsea game was totally different, the atmosphere and everything, and you come back down to earth again.
"Maybe that game took a bit more out of them than we realised." (Additional reporting by Michael Hann; editing by Ed Osmond)
- Sports & Recreation
- Gylfi Sigurdsson
- Aston Villa
- Christian Eriksen
- Premier League
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Kyle Naughton