My sincere thanks go to Declan Mulcahy for this excellent match report.
Sunday 20 March 2022, 4:30pm
Tottenham Hotspur (2) 3 West Ham United (1) 1
Zouma, 9 (o.g.)
Son 24, 88
West Ham scorer:-
Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-2-1):
1 H Lloris (c); 4 C Romero, 15 E Dier, 33 B Davies; 2 M Doherty, 30 R Bentancur, 5 P-E Hojbjerg, 3 S Reguilon (12 Emerson Royal 88); 21 D Kulusevski (23 S Bergwijn 90+2), 7 H-M Son (27 Lucas Moura 90+2); 10 H Kane
Subs not used: 22 P Gollini, 6 D Sanchez, 14 J Rodon, 8 H Winks, 42 H White, 44 D Scarlett
West Ham United (3-4-2-1): David Moyes
1 L Fabianski; 4 K Zouma, 15 C Dawson, 3 A Cresswell; 31 B Johnson, 28 T Soucek, 41 D Rice (c), 26 A Masuaku (8 P Fornals 56); 22 S Benrahma, 10 M Lanzini (11 N Vlasic 84); 9 M Antonio (7 A Yarmolenko 56)
Subs not used: 13 A Areola, 23 I Diop, 24 R Fredericks, 16 M Noble, 33 A Krak, 64 S Perkins
Booked: Dawson (23 foul on Son)
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Attendance: 58,685
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official:- David Coote
VAR:- Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR:- Harry Lennard.
Tottenham Triumph as Kane and Son Shine
This was a high-stakes London derby. Both teams are in contention for a Champions League place at the end of the season. Spurs having lost to another contender Manchester United last weekend needed to win today. A draw or a West Ham victory would have left Spurs at a disadvantage to both teams.
Spurs won the game without too much difficulty. They scored an early goal and led by two midway through the first half. West Ham reduced the deficit before half time but never looked like drawing level. Spurs added a third goal towards the end of the match and are now ahead of Manchester United and West Ham and are three points behind Arsenal who are in fourth place.
Spurs fielded the same eleven and the same nine substitutes from the Wednesday evening game away to Brighton. West Ham had played Seville in a European tie a day later and their match had involved extra time. They made only one change with Masuaku replacing Fornals. Nine out of ten of their outfield players had played all 120 minutes on Thursday night so tiredness could have affected their performance today.
Before the match started there was a minute’s round of applause for Tony Marchi and Peter Barnes both of whom had died recently. Barnes had fulfilled the role of secretary at both clubs. Tony Marchi was a wing half or centre half at the time of the great double team of 1960-61. He didn’t play regularly for the team that season but won a European Cup Winner’s Cup medal in 1963 when Dave Mackay was injured for the final when Spurs beat Atletico Madrid 5-1 in Rotterdam. Both teams wore black armbands as a mark of respect.
Spurs scored after nine minutes the first attempt by either team upon the other team’s goal. After a poor clearance by a Hammers’ defender Doherty set up Kane who produced a low cross from the right side of the box. The pass was destined for Son who would surely have scored. However Zouma in his efforts to deny Son deflected the ball into his own net.
Zouma was booed throughout the game, quite rightly, because he has been charged with cruelty towards his cats. It was somewhat ironic that the only cheers he received was when he conceded the own goal. This was the sixth time this season that Spurs had benefitted from an own goal in the Premier League four more than any other club.
A couple of minutes later Kulusevski set off on a good solo run in his own half. Having played the ball forward he was then in place to receive the ball in the box. He set up Son whose shot hit the post.
Around the midpoint in the half Bentancur played a nice pass to Kane around the centre circle. He set up Son in the left channel who ran into the box and scored with a shot towards the far post which may have taken a slight deflection.
West Ham’s goal, as is not uncommon this season, came as a result of a set piece. (Ed: An unnecessary corner conceded by Doherty) Following a corner on the left Dawson headed the ball on. He found Benrahma on the right unmarked. He scored with a shot to the near post. The score remained 2-1 at the interval.
Early in the second half there was a series of strange incidents.
Spurs were awarded a corner. Before it was taken, the ball was kicked at Son. The ball hit him from behind fairly innocuously but for reasons unknown he went down. The West Ham players were not pleased. Reguilon took offence and came running in. He may have just grazed Cresswell. This set off a minor melee which consisted mainly of verbal rather than physical altercations. Referee Anthony Taylor calmed everything down deciding that no action was necessary. Then two spectators came on the pitch at the south end. As soon as they were apprehended another invader appeared at the north end of the ground. This series of silly events delayed the game for 3-4 minutes.
For the next five to ten minutes the Hammers enjoyed more possession in the Spurs half but couldn’t make it pay. Moyes made two substitutions replacing Masuaku and Antonio with Fornals and Yamolenko and the Hammers switched to a back four.
Moyes will have been disappointed with Antonio’s display. He has scored six goals against Spurs in previous matches. He had West Ham’s two best opportunities today but couldn’t capitalise. Immediately after Spurs first goal the Hammers mounted an attack down the right. Antonio had a good opportunity just to the right of the goal but angled his shot wide past the far post. Just before he was substituted Cresswell crossed from the left of the box but Antonio’s shot was far too high.
Reguilon had two good opportunities to increase Spurs lead. The first was set up by Kane and Son and the second by Kane. In both cases as happened twice at Brighton he entered the box from the left with a clear opportunity to score but couldn’t beat the goalkeeper. The coaching staff need to have him practice these situations more so that he can turn these opportunities into goals.
Spurs were controlling the game at this stage. With three minutes remaining Lloris launched a high kick into the Hammers’ half towards Kane. Two West Ham defenders tried to close him down but Kane headed the ball on to Son who was in the clear because Kane had drawn the defenders. Son had a clear shot and beat Fabianski.
Son had an excellent game. He scored two goals and could well have had a hat-trick if Zouma had not deflected the ball into his own net. When he was substituted during time added on he departed to tumultuous applause. For the remaining minutes the stadium reverberated with applause in a celebratory atmosphere.
Son notwithstanding Kane was the man of the match. He sprayed long passes around the pitch which contributed to almost all of the Spurs attacks. He had a hand in all three goals.
He will have been disappointed though not to score since if he had it would have been the first time that he had scored in five consecutive Premier League games. His best chance came with about ten minutes remaining. Hojbjerg put him clear with one of his trademark lobs over the West Ham defenders but Kane’s shot went over the bar.
The back three all deserve praise. Dier was solid. Davies made at least one important interception. Romero is the most skilled of the three and a delight to watch. At one point a potential West Ham counter-attack was stopped by a fine sliding tackle by Romero.
Bentancur too has nice skills. His long pass to Kane started the move for the second goal. In the second half he found himself in possession of the ball close to the edge of the Spurs box. Two West Ham players tried to close him down but he rounded both of them before starting another Spurs move.
In his post-match press conference Antonio Conte said: "Honestly it's a pity to have the international break in this moment……We are starting to understand to manage 95 minutes in different ways.”
David Moyes said: "You could not have picked a worst game [at the end of this big week]. It's incredibly difficult because Harry Kane is an absolutely world class player and if you don't get it right… we didn't quite get it right."
Spurs are now in fifth position after this excellent result, three points behind Arsenal. They have nine matches remaining. The Liverpool away game and the home match with Arsenal will be challenging. The latter is a ‘must win’ game. The remaining seven games are all winnable though they probably won’t win them all.
If Spurs can maintain some consistency a fifth place finish or better is attainable. However consistency this season has been an issue. The last few weeks have seen some better performances. There is now an international break for two weeks. We can but hope that the improvement continues when the Premier League resumes.
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