West Ham United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
As I reflected on this scoreline, it dawned on me that Jesse Lingard actually scored the very first and final goals of Jose Mourinho’s reign as manager of Manchester United.
There’s no chance Lingard’s winner in this contest will have similar consequences but the on-loan United player has certainly piled on the pressure for his former boss.
As David Moyes finally had won a match against Mourinho – at the 16th attempt – Spurs were slipping to a fifth defeat in six Premier League games.
Highlights of the game
West Ham boss Moyes made two changes from the 3-0 win over Sheffield United last weekend with Pablo Fornals and Michail Antonio returning to the side in place of Ben Johnson and Manuel Lanzini.
Meanwhile, Mourinho switched things around from their Europa League success against Wolfsberger with Sergio Reguilon, Davinson Sanchez, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Kane among seven changes.
Gareth Bale, Harry Winks, Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko were among those to drop to the bench.
Based on their most recent clash, a match which seemed set for a comprehensive Spurs win in October until a remarkable late, late show. we anticipated Premier League highlights.
What we didn’t necessarily expect was a goal inside the opening five minutes.
Jarrod Bowen’s inviting inswinging cross from the right was met by Antonio and, while Hugo Lloris kept out his close-range volley, Antonio was alert to fire the rebound into the roof of the net.
For the first of five fixtures branded decisive in West Ham’s unlikely bid for European qualification, this was a dream start.
For a potentially rusty Spurs, who have certainly had an unforgiving schedule which has led to some unforgiving results of late, it was the opening they must have dreaded.
A poor start to one half is bad enough, to begin the second period by conceding an even earlier goal must really have grated.
This time it was Lingard who made the decisive intervention, crashing a left-footed shot past Lloris, initially disallowed before VAR intervened and ruled Fornals, who was offside, had not touched the ball.
West Ham were suddenly 2-0 up and moving nine points above Tottenham.
The insipid visitors then woke up. Half-time substitute Gareth Bale set up fellow sub Lucas Moura to flick in a header off the inside of the post.
Bale then struck the top of the crossbar with a sweet strike.
An equaliser seemed likely and as the pressure built, there was also time for an attempted clearance to hit Son Heung-min and bounce off the post in stoppage time.
It was too late though and Moyes finally had a win to cherish over Mourinho.
West Ham are up to fourth, a position the Premier League betting odds nor this SBOTOP writer would have predicted at the start of the campaign.
The key question is, can they stay there? And can Mourinho defy his critics who believe his time in North London is nearing an end?
Antonio has scored more Premier League goals against Tottenham than any other side (five). All 42 of his top-flight goals have come from inside the box – in the competition’s history, only Tim Cahill (56), Javier Hernandez (53) and Gabriel Jesus (45) have scored more with all of them coming from inside the box.
West Ham have lost just once in 11 Premier League matches, winning seven and drawing three.
The Hammers have already earned six more points in 2020-21 than they did in the entirety of last season. They are in the top four after at least 25 matches for the first time since 1985-86 when they finished third.
Tottenham have failed to beat West Ham in a league season for the first time since 2013-14.
Spurs have won just once in eight top-flight away fixtures (drawn three, lost four).
This was the first time a Mourinho side had conceded in the opening five minutes of both halves of a Premier League match.
This was Mourinho’s 50th Premier League game in charge of Spurs. The 81 points they have picked up under the Portuguese is 14 fewer than he’s managed with any other side throughout his first 50 league games in charge (Man Utd, 95).
A true test of West Ham’s recent progress comes with a trip to leaders Manchester City next Saturday before hosting Leeds United on March 8.
Spurs have a much more congested programme.
After meeting Wolfsberg on Wednesday in the second leg of a Europa League tie they lead 4-1, Burnley are the visitors to North London next weekend quickly followed by a visit to face Fulham in west London.
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