Wednesday, February 24, 2021

West Ham climbs to fourth place as Tottenham collide again

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West Ham advanced to fourth place in the Premier League with a 2-1 win against struggling Tottenham on Sunday that left London’s four best rivals in shambles.

José Mourinho’s team fell to a fifth loss in their last six league games, as they paid the price for a sloppy defensive performance at London Stadium.

Michail Antonio put West Ham in front early in the first half and Jesse Lingard doubled the hosts’ lead after the break.

Lucas Moura cut the deficit with his first league goal since September, but the sputtered Spurs couldn’t save a point.

West Ham climbed two points above Chelsea in the Champions League places when their unexpected European challenge was accelerated with a seventh victory in their last nine league games.

It was West Ham manager David Moyes’ first win in 16 meetings with Mourinho.

And while Moyes has caused a notable resurgence at West Ham, who were in a relegation battle when he arrived last season, Mourinho’s Tottenham are in the midst of a sorry campaign.

They are languishing in ninth place and trailing West Ham by nine points, albeit with a game in hand.

Tottenham have already lost eight league games this season, the second-worst comeback of Mourinho’s career after losing nine to Chelsea in 2015-16.

Mourinho will have to change course quickly to save his job after Tottenham’s latest failure.

Tottenham had conceded nine goals in their last three matches in all competitions, underscoring the defensive failures that have plagued them since blowing a three-goal lead in the final minutes of their 3-3 draw with West Ham in October.

Antonio took advantage of a more dismal defense to open the scoring in the fifth minute.

When Son Heung-min’s slow reaction allowed Jarrod Bowen to launch a cross from the left, Eric Dier and Japhet Tanganga were caught off guard when Antonio came between them.

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved Antonio’s initial effort, and the West Ham forward quickly got to his feet to stab the rebound from close range.

– Tottenham toothless –

Tomas Soucek was left with blood running down his face after a head clash with Tanganga, which put West Ham to 10 men for five minutes as the midfielder went to sew.

Even then, the toothless Tottenham were unable to advance and Lloris had to dump Craig Dawson’s header after the defender easily evaded the loose mark on Aaron Cresswell’s corner.

After a lethargic half, Tottenham showed signs of life as Erik Lamela’s curling iron forced a decent save from Lukasz Fabianski, who had to slump to his right to avoid Harry Kane’s low shot moments later.

Tottenham had failed to win any of their 11 previous league games when trailing at halftime, so Mourinho took action with the introduction of Gareth Bale and Matt Doherty.

Bale had impressed during a rare start against Wolfsberger, but the Wales forward could do nothing to prevent the Spurs from heading for another loss.

With the help of Tottenham’s statuesque rear guard, Lingard broke free to finish in the far corner in the 47th minute.

An offside flag looked like it could save Spurs, but a VAR review overturned the decision as Lingard belatedly celebrated his third goal since signing on loan from Manchester United.

Tottenham needed an immediate response and Kane was deflected with a strong free kick before Lucas recovered one in the 64th minute.

Bale’s corner shot at Lucas at the near post and the Brazilian leapt ahead of his marker to head on Fabianski.

Bale nearly equalized with a withering effort from the edge of the area that crashed into the bar.

Tottenham’s luck failed again in injury time when the ball bounced off Son, but it flipped off the post and bounced back to safety.

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