West Ham up to fourth as troubled Spurs crash again


London (AFP) – West Ham moved into fourth in the Premier League with a 2-1 win against troubled Tottenham on Sunday that left their London rivals’ top four bid in tatters.

Jose Mourinho’s side slumped to a fifth defeat in their last six league games as they paid the price for a sloppy defensive display at the London Stadium.

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

Lucas Moura reduced the deficit with his first league goal since September, but spluttering Spurs were unable to salvage a point.

West Ham climbed two points above Chelsea into the Champions League spots as their unexpected European challenge gathered pace with a seventh win in their last nine league matches.

It was a first triumph for West Ham boss David Moyes in 16 meetings with Mourinho.

And while Moyes has sparked a remarkable revival at West Ham, who were in a relegation battle when he arrived last season, Mourinho’s Tottenham are in the middle of a woeful campaign.

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

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

Mourinho will have to turn the tide quickly to save his job after Tottenham’s latest flop.

Tottenham had conceded nine goals in their last three games in all competitions, underlining the defensive flaws that have plagued them since they squandered a three-goal lead in the closing minutes of their 3-3 draw with West Ham in October.

Antonio exploited more dismal defending to open the scoring in the fifth minute.

When Son Heung-min’s slow reaction allowed Jarrod Bowen to whip in a cross from the left, Eric Dier and Japhet Tanganga stood flat-footed as Antonio got between them.

Antonio’s initial toe-poked effort was saved by Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris and the West Ham forward quickly got to his feet to stab in the rebound from close-range.

– Toothless Tottenham –

Tomas Soucek was left with blood streaming down his face after a clash of heads with Tanganga, putting West Ham down to 10 men for five minutes while the midfielder went off to be stitched up.

Even then, toothless Tottenham couldn’t make any headway and Lloris had to tip over Craig Dawson’s header after the defender easily evaded slack marking at Aaron Cresswell’s corner.

After a lethargic half, Tottenham showed signs of life as Erik Lamela’s curler forced a decent save from Lukasz Fabianski, who had to sprawl to his right to keep out Harry Kane’s low drive moments later.

Tottenham had failed to win any of their previous 11 league games when trailing at half-time, 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 Spurs spiralling towards another defeat.

Aided by Tottenham’s statuesque rearguard, Lingard broke clear to drive a fine finish into the far corner in the 47th minute.

An offside flag looked like it might spare 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 just off-target with a fierce free-kick before Lucas got one back in the 64th minute.

Bale’s corner arrowed towards Lucas at the near post and the Brazilian edged in front of his marker to glance a header past Fabianski.

Bale almost equalised with a blistering effort from the edge of the area that cannoned off the bar.

Tottenham’s luck was out again in stoppage-time when the ball rebounded off Son but looped onto the post and bounced to safety.

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