A dramatic London derby ended with a last
minute win for Tottenham and a crushing defeat for West Ham United in
their vain search for points that might keep them in the Premier League.
With the fuss surrounding West Ham all
week, it was expected to be a cakewalk for Spurs, but the Irons showed
they would not lay down for anyone. However, it was an end-to-end
game with Tottenham having two clear chances before West Ham scored.
It was the home side who had the first
threat with Noble bringing a diving save out of Robinson from shot from
outside the area. The Irons had lost Matthew Upson after just 11
minutes, with ex-Spur Calum Davenport coming on in his place and Spurs
exploited the change with Berbatov making inroads into the West Ham
area. Dimitar was released into the box and Green had to be sharp
out to him to block his shot and then, when Tainio put Berbatov in on
goal, the keeper saved with his legs.
Within a minute though, West Ham had gone
ahead. Ghaly lost the ball and Konchesky played a cross in that
Tevez chested down for Noble to repeat his earlier effort, but this time
he found the bottom corner through a player's legs leaving Robbo with no
West Ham were closing Spurs down and
getting close to them when the ball was played forward leaving them
little time on the ball and getting little assistance from the referee,
who let a lot of challenges from behind go.
Green made his best and most fortuitous
stop when a clearance bounced off Jenas and Bowyer sliced it towards his
own goal, with the goalie palming the ball out. It only fell to
Berba and he took his time as the ball came down and struck a fierce
left foot shot that bounced off Green's forehead and away. Half an
hour in, Defoe was slipped through by Berbatov and was pulled back for
offside, although later replays showed he was not and could have been in
on goal if not for the official's whistle.
West Ham got a soft free-kick on the edge
of the Spurs area, five minutes before the break and Carlos Tevez
stepped up to lift it over the wall and in off the underside of the
crossbar to make it 2-0. Question marks must be raised about
Robbo's positioning, as the ball was centrally placed and he was two
yards off his line, but far enough to let the ball get over him.
It was just what Tottenham did not need with the break coming up.
The interval saw Jol make an astute
substitution, bringing on Huddlestone for Ghaly, who was giving
possession away and also looked light-weight in what was becoming a
heavyweight battle. The change opened up the play and freed Lennon
to make more of his pace on the left, showing early on that he could cut
inside and although he made a mess of his shot, Jenas almost latched
onto it to make something from nothing. Aaron bought a foul out
of Bowyer, never something that takes a lot of coercion, but the next
time he was put away by Hud against the midfielder, Bowyer rashly dived
into the tackle in the area and five minutes into the half, Tottenham
had a penalty.
Cue boos galore, as Jermain Defoe picked
up the ball and placed it on the spot. Despite Green's
time-wasting tactics designed to upset the little Spurs striker, Defoe
stepped up and drilled it past him to get Spurs back into the game.
With Bowyer having been booked for the foul, Lucas Neill was next into
the book as the West Ham players struggled to live with Lennon's pace.
Martin Jol's next substitution was an odd
one. Stalteri replacing Jenas. It allowed Chimbonda to go
into midfield and give some width on the right and Konchesky got a
yellow card when he had to pull the French defender back as he got away
from him. Just after the hour, Spurs produced a flowing move that
saw a fine goal at the end of it.
Berbatov got away on the right, looked up
and sprayed a cross to the far post. Lennon could only manufacture
a back-heel in mid-air that dropped to Tainio around the penalty spot
and he calmly stroked his volley past Green to level the scores.
As the half went on, it
looked as though Spurs were the more likely side to score the next goal,
but a slice of luck for West ham came when Quashie went for a shot that
saw Tainio tackle him and the Hammer was injured in the process.
This brought Kepa on in his place and from the resulting corner, he won
a header which flew a couple of yards wide. It was a warning to
Tottenham which they did not heed. When another ex-Spurs player -
Etherington - left the field, it was another who came on - Bobby Zamora.
With his first touch, he had put the home team back into the lead,
rising above Tainio to score the third West Ham goal from Tevez's
free-kick (given for a soft challenge by Gardener), with just six
Jol's last throw of the dice was to put
on young French talent Adel Taarabt for Chimbonda, who had been
suffering with a chest infection. His direct running with the ball
caused problems for a West ham defence, most of whom were already on a
yellow card. Making a charge on goal, he was felled in the D and
Spurs had a free-kick. With Jenas having failed to make much of
those previously awarded, his absence left the way clear for Berbatov to
deftly place the ball over Konchesky's head on the goal-line and below
the bar to bring the score back to 3-3 with a minute to go.
So, it looked like Tottenham had salvaged
a draw. But West ham attacked and with the ball pinging around the
Spurs area, it dropped for Tevez, who fired a volley a foot wide of the
upright. But there was four minutes more to play.
Konchesky had a free-kick blocked wide
for a corner and when it came in it flew to the far post. Harewood
tried to manufacture a shooting opportunity, but lee nicked the ball off
him and Stalteri brought it out, with four team-mates in support.
With most of the West Ham players upfield, the Canadian released Defoe
on the right and he got a low shot on goal. Green was at full
stretch to save it, but the ball ran away from his hands and Stalteri
had carried on his run to put the bal into an empty net to give
Tottenham a late, late winner.
Undeserved the win might have been, but
the way Tottenham played in the second half justified the goals and
taking your chances is what the game is all about. West Ham might
have taken their chances with the two Argentinians, but playing safe
with six minutes to go might have earned them more points than they
ended up with.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - TEEMU TAINIO