West Ham beaten by Tottenham in London derby clash
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers huffed and puffed but couldn’t beat Hugo Lloris
West Ham United 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1
The Hammers trudged off the London Stadium turf wondering just how they had failed to get anything from this lively London derby, which was decided by Erik Lamela’s header on the stroke of half-time.
The Argentinian’s fifth goal of the season was enough to give Mauricio Pochettino’s men all three points on an afternoon when fellow South American Manuel Pellegrini somehow saw his side’s industry and invention come to nothing.
Returning from the international break, the Hammers made two enforced changes from the side that had lost at Brighton & Hove Albion last time out – a defeat that had ended an encouraging three-match unbeaten league run – as Aaron Cresswell and Robert Snodgrass replaced the injured duo of Arthur Masuaku (ankle) and Pedro Obiang.
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Despite making a precautionary early return from the Austrian camp, Marko Arnautovi? proved himself sufficiently fit to make Pellegrini’s starting line-up and, after Lamela dished up an early warning of intent with an angled effort into the side netting, Hammers lone-striker then tested Hugo Lloris with a low 12-yarder that the Frenchman comfortably fielded.
Kicking-off in fifth spot – 11 points and 10 places above West Ham – Spurs had made it a hat-trick of Premier League wins with victory over Cardiff City, a fortnight ago, but Pochettino was also forced to shuffle his pack as Ben Davies came in for Danny Rose (groin), while Lamela had replaced substitute Heung-Min Son, who joined fit-again Christian Eriksen on the bench.
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With ten minutes on the clock, Moussa Sissoko’s 18-yarder deflected off Declan Rice for a corner and, as this derby unfolded into a tit-for-tat battle, Davies then headed Andriy Yarmolenko’s cleverly executed centre behind for West Ham’s first flag-kick of the contest.
Having sustained a cut in the well-worked build-up to that corner, in a scene reminiscent of the Full Monty, the bloodied Pablo Zabaleta was forced to replace both shirt and shorts in front of a full house watching this enthralling end-to-end London derby unfold.
Harry Kane then saw a 20-yarder deflected behind for another corner, which Toby Alderweireld nodded wide and, with the England striker now finding his feet, it was left to Issa Diop to foil the Tottenham No.10 with the bravest of brave blocks.
Lucas Moura and Harry Winks also found themselves running into the brick wall that is Diop as Spurs gradually took the sting out of the game with patient prodding and probing inside the final third, forcing both Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson further and further onto the back foot.
On 36 minutes, though, Yarmolenko found himself breaking upfield, where he cleverly cut back to Snodgrass, whose low, goalbound 15-yarder was blocked on the line by Alderweireld.
Sadly for Yarmolenko, that would be his final act of the afternoon for, when the consequent corner was nodded on by Fabián Balbuena, the Ukrainian – having his best game to date in front of his home fans - stumbled awkwardly in his attempt to pick up the pieces and he was consequently driven away on the casualty cart as Grady Diangana stepped from the dug-out.
And it simply got worse for West Ham just a minute before the interval, when Sissoko got the better of Anderson before sending a right-wing cross into the near post, where Lamela ghosted in front of compatriot Zabaleta to nod Spurs into a half-time lead.
Pellegrini’s pep-talk during the break looked to have stirred his men, who came out firing with an early Arnautovi? early header that forced Lloris to claw the ball out from underneath his left-hand angle after Cresswell had sent over a clever centre.
Javier Hernández then replaced the all but anonymous Anderson before skipper Mark Noble was booked for launching Lamela onto the deck.
On the hour, Arnautovi? sent a low 18-yarder through a crowded penalty area but despite seeing it late, Lloris was just able to fingertip the ball aside for a corner that Balbuena nodded well wide from just six yards.
Just like the opening period, the temperature was rapidly rising and Arnautovi? and Sissoko had serious words on the touchline after the Frenchman took exception to the Austrian’s forceful slide-tackle and then the busy Hammers striker sliced one over the top.
With his last roll of the dice, Pellegrini brought on Michail Antonio for Noble for the final 20 minutes, which saw the impressive Diop rise highest to head another Snodgrass corner narrowly wide before Arnautovi? saw yellow for tripping Kieran Trippier.
The Hammers were certainly looking threatening and Pochettino hooked goal-scorer Lamela for the final quarter-hour, preferring to bolster his teetering team with midfield enforcer Mousa Dembélé.
On 85 minutes, Hernández though he had deservedly levelled but the Mexican’s joy was quickly wiped out by an offside flag and, as a red mist from a smoke bomb drifted through the Stratford sky, Kane – who had also been spent the afternoon being obscured by Diop – was replaced by Fernando Llorente, while Eriksen returned to action in place of Sissoko.
But in stoppage time it readily apparent that it just was not going to be West Ham’s day, when Lloris raced from his line to smother Arnautovi? to deny the luckless Hammers anything for all of their East End effort and endeavour.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Balbuena, Diop, Noble (Antonio 71), Rice, Snodgrass, Yarmolenko (Diangana 39)., Anderson (Hernández 56), Arnautovi?. Unused subs: Adrián, Ogbonna, Fredericks, Masuaku.
SPURS: Lloris, Trippier, Davies, Alderweireld, Sánchez, Dier, Sissoko, (Eriksen 88),Winks, Moura, Lamela, (Dembélé 76), Kane (Llorente 85). Unused subs: Gazzaniga, Son, Walker-Peters, Aurier.
Booked: Noble (58), Arnautovi? (73).
Referee: Martin Atkinson