West Ham power to deserved win as Spurs’ title hopes are crushed
PUBLISHED: 22:16 05 May 2017 | UPDATED: 22:17 05 May 2017
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The Hammers are safe in the Premier League after a dramatic win over Tottenham
The Hammers were the toast of East and West London as they turned the form-book upside down at the London Stadium to blow any lingering title dreams that Tottenham harboured out of the water.
Manuel Lanzini bundled home his eighth goal of the season midway through the second half to give the Hammers three precious points and leave Spurs four behind Antonio Conté’s table-topping, Chelsea.
And that was perfect justice for Lanzini, who had been wiped out by the unpunished Hugo Lloris in the first half as West Ham battled from the first minute to the very final second to produce their best result to date in their new home.
Unbeaten in their last four outings and, following back-to-back goalless draws against Everton and Stoke City, the Hammers - who came into this clash in 15th-spot - made three changes from last Saturday’s Bet365 Stadium stalemate as Mark Noble, Aaron Cresswell and Sam Byram replaced the injured Arthur Masuaku plus substitutes Håvard Nordtveit and Edimilson Fernandes.
After all the Will-he? Won’t-he? speculation, injured Andy Carroll (thigh) did not even make the bench, which meant another start for lone-striker Jonathan Calleri and, with five minutes on the clock, the Argentinian was left fuming, when Lanzini raced onto André Ayew’s defence-splitting pass but instead of squaring into the six-yard box, his compatriot went for an angled 10-yarder that fizzed across the face of both Lloris and the far post.
Having played the Hammers for the last time at White Hart Lane back in November, in-form Spurs had arrived for their first-ever encounter at London Stadium on a rampant run of nine successive Premier League victories.
Last Sunday’s derby victory over Arsenal had ensured that Pochettino’s men would finish above the Gunners for the first time in 22 years and, following that win – their 16th on the bounce this season at the Lane – they made just one change as Manchester City-target Kyle Walker replaced substitute Kieran Trippier.
And within a dozen minutes, the Tottenham right-back found himself going into referee Anthony Taylor’s notebook for his block tackle on Lanzini, who dusted himself down to float the consequent free-kick onto the head of Cheikhou Kouyaté but Lloris easily saved.
Shortly afterwards, Noble also saw yellow for a feisty follow-through on Eric Dier as the Hammers maintained their enthusiastic and energetic early tempo to the approval of everyone claret and blue.
But midway through the half, Spurs finally released the handbrake and, going through the gears, Toby Alderweireld’s upfield punt was nodded on by Son Heung-Min, whereupon Harry Kane let fly with a low 20-yarder that Adrián found too hot to handle. Dele Alli’s follow-up was then charged down by José Fonte and, although Kane again latched onto the loose ball, the Hammers keeper’s outstretched right ankle ensured that the England striker’s low 15-yard shot flew over the bar.
Still the danger was not over and, as the visitors forced a hat-trick of corners, Dier’s glancing header was beaten around his near post by the agile Adrián.
By now, this was turning into real end-to-end stuff and, as the half-hour mark neared, there was real Cockney controversy, when Noble sent Lanzini racing clear only for Lloris to race from goal and recklessly wipe him out on the 18-yard line but referee Taylor did not even give a free-kick, yet alone produce a red card for the fortunate, flying Frenchman.
And with Kouyaté steering the loose ball wide, too, a steaming Slaven Bilić was left berating the fourth official as Spurs re-grouped with a mere goal-kick, when they could easily have been down to ten men and without the services of their French skipper.
Kouyaté was in the thick of things going into the interval, scuffing well wide from 20 yards before Winston Reid was booked for uprooting Victor Wanyama but a frenetic first-half somehow finished goalless.
Just after the restart, Byram’s overlapping run saw him cut back to Ayew but his rising 18-yarder was always clearing the Spurs crossbar and then Calleri’s overhit throughball simply left the galloping Ghanaian with far too much to do as he got behind Tottenham’s high defensive line and Lloris easily gathered.
While Bilić paced up and down his technical area, Mauricio Pochettino sat rooted to his seat pondering how his second-placed side could breach determined home defences.
On the hour, Son did get behind Cresswell but his low cross to the edge of the six-yard box was meekly side-footed to Adrián by Christian Eriksen and then Son tested the Hammers keeper with a far more threatening, low 20-yarder that was diverted aside.
But just as Spurs looked to be getting on top, Lanzini struck on 65 minutes.
Releasing the overlapping Cresswell into the left corner, the Argentinian ace ghosted into the box and, when the Hammers defender crossed to the edge of the six-yard box, it simply did not matter that neither Byram nor Ayew could bundle home, for it was third time lucky as Lanzini, lashed the ball past both Lloris and Alderweireld.
As the ball ripped into the net, the London Stadium decibel record was smashed to smithereens, while Lanzini was booked for over-celebrating with the ecstatic East Enders.
Moussa Dembélé, Vincent Jansen and Trippier each came on for Vertonghen, Wanyama and Walker, while Noble and Lanzini both sent over-excitable efforts sailing well wide before Lloris denied Calleri with a point-blank save.
Byram was also booked for trying to prematurely swap shirts with Son, while Robert Snodgrass, Ashley Fletcher and Fernandes replaced Ayew, Calleri and Lanzini, who each left to rapturous applause for their industrious shifts before their equally heroic team-mates also departed in a cacophony of sound just minutes later.
HAMMERS: Adrián, Reid, Collins, Fonte, Byram, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyaté, Lanzini (Fernandes 90+2), Ayew (Snodgrass 83) Calleri (Fletcher 89). Unused subs: Randolph, Nordtveit, Feghouli, Rice.
SPURS: Lloris, Walker (Trippier 80), Davies, Alderweireld, Vertonghen (Dembélé 67), Dier, Wanyama (Janssen 72), Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane. Unused subs: Vorm, N’Koudou, Sissoko, Wimmer.
BOOKED: Walker (12), Noble (15), Reid (38), Lanzini (64), Byram (70), Trippier (90+3)
Referee: Antony Taylor.