West Ham United 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
JOSE MOURINHO quite literally came, saw and conquered as his Tottenham Hotspur side marked his return to the Premier League with a 3-2 victory over struggling West Ham United at the London Stadium which was far more comfortable than the results suggested.
With the media spotlight firmly focused os Spurs, the building pressure might have seemingly lifted briefly from the shoulders of Hammers chief, Manuel Pellegrini. Nevertheless, the Chilean was concerned over hos sides rapid dip in form
“It was very unexpected,” he bemoaned.
“We started the last season very good, playing good and for different reasons, we must find out why we didn’t continue playing the same way and to win games.”
And the West Ham boss was under no delusions as to the new test his side faced following the swift change in N17: “Tottenham has a very good team with important players, that make the difference,” he added.
“You cannot know what has happened there but the results were not what they are used to having.
“Now they have a new manager, unfortunately for Mauricio Pochettino who did a very good job over a lot of years. I don’t know their reason why he was sacked.”
Mourinho’s appointment at Spurs had led to the expected media-frenzy. However, although the immediate expectation on the former Chelsea and Manchester United chief was huge, the Portuguese insisted he was focusing on the task in hand: “At the moment, I am only thinking about West Ham and Olympiacos. I will try to win against West Ham and try to qualify for the Champions League next round,” he explained.
“I am only focusing on this, but with the squad we have and the quality of the whole structure of the club, I think we can have the same ambitions as they have at clubs that are bigger than us.
“I don’t want my players to fear anything. We go for everything against everybody and we can win.”
Nevertheless, it was difficult to predict what we would see from two sides so desperately out of sorts. Harry Kane’s early strike was chalked off following an assistants call, while Sebastien Haller nodded directly at Paulo Gazzaniga as the early tempo of the contest ebbed, but struggled to flow.
But it was Spurs who appeared the more confident and they would totally dominate the opening 45 minutes. Under fire Hammers stopper, Roberto produced an unorthodox save to keep out Heung-Min Son’s speculative attempt, while a timely intervention from Declan Rice denied Son another sight of goal.
But when Dele handed son another opportunity, the South Korean didn’t disappoint, sending a low, angled strike beyond Roberto – the goal had been coming – an uneasy mood began to cloud those of a Hammers persuasion.
The atmosphere was soon to darken further. Lucas Moura arrived at the far post to convert Son’s driven centre – the after the latter responded quickly to more desperate West Ham defending – The revitalised Dele again prominent in the move.
And there was more of the same immediately after the break. Moura dragged wide after Son had played him in. But with their next foray forward, Kane arrived to nod Serge Aurier’s centre firmly past Roberto for Tottenham’s third.
Diop thwarted Kane’s quest for a fourth with a superbly timed challenge, but any West Ham toil at this stage was all too little, too late.
Indeed, a number of disgruntled Hammers fans had already seen enough and had long-since headed for the exits. They would miss substitute, Michail Antonio, sending a fizzing right-footed strike past Paulo Gazzaniga to reduce the arrears.
VAR put pay to any further thoughts of a West Ham comeback – Declan Rice the man left disappointed by a reassessed off-side decision. But Angel Ogbonna dis manage to head another goal back for the East Londoners. However, the narrow scoreline only served to paper over some alarming cracks in Pellegrini’s ailing side
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Saturday, November 30 when they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (3pm). On the same day, Spurs take on AFC Bournemouth at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (3pm).
Prior to those fixtures, Spurs turn their attention to the UEFA Champions League, with Olympiacos the visitors on Tuesday, November 26 (8pm).
West Ham United: Roberto, Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop (Carlo Sanchez 64’), Anglo Ogbonna, Aaron Creswell, Declan Rice, Andriy Yarmolenko (Pablo Fornals 56’), Mark Noble (Capt) Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson (Michail Antonio 46’), Sebastien Haller Subs not used: Fabian Balbuena, Pablo Zabaleta, David Martin (GK), Albian Ajeti
Booked: Issa Diop (foul), Ryan Fredericks (foul), Robert Snodgrass (foul)
Goals: Michail Antonio 73’, Angelo Ogbonna 90+5′
Tottenham Hotspur: Paulo Gazzaniga, Serge Aurier, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sánchez, Ben Davies (Danny Rose 75’), Eric Dier, Harry Winks, Lucas Moura (Moussa Sissoko 81’), Dele Alli (Christian Eriksen 79’), Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane Subs not used: Kyle Walker-Peters, Giovani Lo Celso, Juan Foyth, Brandon Austin (GK)
Booked: Ben Davies (foul)
Goals: Heung-Min Son 36’, Lucas Moura 43’, Harry Kane 49’
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett
Fourth Official: Robert Jones
Reaction to follow…