WEST HAM UNITED 2 (Antonio 5, Lingard 47)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (Lucas Moura 64)
JOSE MOURINHO has never lacked self-belief, and although this is the worst run of form in his managerial career, with this latest defeat at bitter rivals West Ham effectively ending Tottenham’s chances of a top four finish, he was unrepentant about the job he is doing.
“Mine and my coaching staff’s methods are second to nobody in the world,” he said defiantly.
Asked if this is now a full-blown crisis, he responded: “I would not say crisis, I would say we are in a really bad run of results and losing too many matches, but there are multiple reasons.”
Spurs have lost five of their past six league games and have slid from top of the league to mid-table since December, while West Ham have been moving in the opposite direction and the talk around the London Stadium is about a place in the Champions League for the first time.
David Moyes has assembled an upwardly mobile side in the heart of the East End, and finally got one over Mourinho to steer his side back into fourth place, nine points clear of Tottenham.
Not so long ago Moyes looked set for yet another relegation battle, while Mourinho was expected to return Spurs to Europe’s premier competition. When the sides met at Tottenham in October, Spurs were riding high while West Ham were struggling, having lost their opening two league games. But since that stirring comeback to recover from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 the Hammers have lost only four league games, to Liverpool (twice), Manchester United and Chelsea. “That was a big, big result and gave us confidence and belief,” Moyes admitted.
“This time last year we were worried sick we would be relegated, and now we are in an incredible position. I hope we can get into European competition because the players have done a great job.”
He has formed a formidable unit who are no longer brittle defensively and can score on the counter-attack, and it worked to perfection against an out-of-sorts Spurs side who cannot catch a lucky break. They dominated this game, with 6 per cent possession and 20 attempts on goal compared to only four from the home side, but individual errors have cost Tottenham dear, and it was another one from Hugo Lloris in the fifth minute that gave West Ham a flying start.
Lloris fumbled Jarrod Bowen’s cross and Michail Antonio had a simple tap-in from close range. Although Spurs had most of the possession, Lucasz Fabianski was hardly tested until shortly before the break, saving shots from Erik Lamela and Harry Kane. West Ham could have doubled their lead when Craig Dawson thumped a header goalwards from Aaron Cresswell’s corner, but Lloris tipped the ball over.
Mourinho made changes at half-time, sending on Gareth Bale and Matt Doherty, but West Ham swiftly doubled their lead through Jesse Lingard. The former England man has enlivened the Hammers since joining on loan from Manchester United last month, and scored a beauty here. Starting a move wide on the left, he took a return pass to smash the ball with his left foot into the far corner of goalto put West Ham 2-0 ahead.
Spurs did not give up. Kane went close with a free-kick and forced another fine save from Fabianski. The keeper was beaten at his near post in the 64th minute when Lucas Moura flicked a header from Bale’s corner to throw Spurs a lifeline. Inspired by Bale, they went for the equaliser. Kane shot wide and then sent in a low cross that Declan Rice did well to clear, before Bale struck the bar with a volley. The Hammers were clinging on, and Son could have equalised in stoppage time but the ball hit the inside of far post and bobbled to safety. It summed up Tottenham’s day, and this latest defeat means more misery for their supporters.
West Ham’s fans, meanwhile, can start dreaming of a top four finish and place in Europe, while Mourinho says Tottenham’s best chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League will be by winning the Europa League.
WEST HAM 3-4-3
Fabianski 8; Diop 7, Dawson 8, Cresswell 7; Coufal 6, Rice 8, Soucek 7, Fornals 6 (Johnson 81); Bowen 6 (Benrahma 65), Antonio 6, Lingard 7 (Noble 90+2)
Lloris 6; Tanganga 6 (Doherty 46), Sanchez 7, Dier 6, Reguilon 6 (Dele Alli 76); Ndombele 7, Hojbjerg 7; Lucas 6, Lamela 6 (Bale 46), Son 6; Kane 7
Ref Craig Pawson