West Ham battle back to heap pain on wasteful Spurs

West Ham United’s Mexican midfielder #19 Edson Alvarez (2R) challenges Tottenham Hotspur’s English midfielder #04 Oliver Skipp during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on December 7, 2023. AFP

Early-season Premier League pacesetters Tottenham slipped to a fourth defeat in five matches on Wednesday, going down 2-1 to West Ham after throwing away the lead yet again.

Ange Postecoglou’s team raced out of the blocks at the start of the campaign, playing a dazzling brand of attacking football and winning eight of their first 10 games to top the table.

But their momentum has slowed dramatically in recent weeks and they now find themselves nine points behind leaders and bitter London rivals Arsenal.

Spurs came into the match in buoyant mood after an enthralling 3-3 weekend draw against champions Manchester City and they started in style at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Cristian Romero put the home side ahead early, just reward for their dominance, but the visitors equalised through Jarrod Bowen shortly after half-time and James Ward-Prowse completed the turnaround in the 74th minute.

Delighted West Ham manager David Moyes said his side had the ability to give top sides a “bloody nose”.

“Huge performance because of the quality of the opposition,” he told Amazon Prime. “We were up against it tonight. We had to dig in. Thankfully we just about scraped it.

“The quality Tottenham showed in the first half, I don’t know if we touched the ball for eight or nine minutes.”

Spurs on top

Spurs enjoyed around 90 percent possession in the opening minutes as the visitors struggled to make any sort of impact.

They got the reward they deserved in the 11th minute, when Romero met an outswinging corner from Pedro Porro and guided his header into the top corner from the centre of the penalty box.

The home team continued to dominate and create chances, with Dejan Kulusevski catching the eye.

Giovani Lo Celso’s shot in the 35th minute was saved by Lukasz Fabianski before Brennan Johnson fired straight at the goalkeeper

But Spurs failed to make their overwhelming superiority count and were grateful when Lucas Paqueta headed wide after a fine cross from Mohammed Kudus in the closing minutes of the first half.

Spurs nearly doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Lo Celso’s cross was deflected onto the stanchion by West Ham captain Kurt Zouma.

But the second period was a different story, with West Ham dangerous on the break and Spurs’ energy levels dipping.

England forward Bowen battled to win the ball on the left and fed Kudus, whose shot was deflected into Bowen’s path and he made no mistake to level in the 52nd minute — scoring for the seventh away game in a row in the league.

Spurs substitute Richarlison came agonisingly close to levelling with his first touch but his header was inches wide of the back post.

Instead it was West Ham who scored next, taking advantage of a defensive calamity.

Destiny Udogie played a back pass back to goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario but it was short and Vicario could only parry it away to Ward-Prowse, who hit the post but tucked the rebound into an empty net.

It means for the fifth game running Spurs failed to win after scoring first — losing four and winning one of those games.

Spurs captain Son Heung-min pleaded with his team to be more ruthless.

“You get the lead five times in a row and losing the game is unacceptable,” he said.

“We were soft and especially in the Premier League, even if you’re winning 2-0 or 3-0 you never know what’s going to happen in the end. One-nil isn’t enough, you have to try to kill the game.”

The defeat leaves Spurs in fifth spot, three points outside the top four, while West Ham are ninth.

Everton stun Newcastle to move out of Premier League relegation zone

Everton struck three times in the final 11 minutes to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone despite a 10-point deduction as Newcastle were stunned 3-0 at Goodison Park on Thursday.

Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Beto scored the goals as the Toffees’ fine form continued despite the blow of being hit by the toughest sporting sanction dished out in Premier League history for breaches of financial rules.

Newcastle were made to pay for two uncharacteristic errors by England international Kieran Trippier as fatigue hit the injury ravaged Magpies in the closing stages.

McNeil pounced to smash into the top corner 11 minutes from time before Doucoure secured a fifth win in seven games for Everton.

Substitute Beto rounded off victory with his first Premier League goal in stoppage time.

Victory lifts Everton one point clear of the bottom three and they would be in the top half but for the points penalty.

“This season, apart from the obvious with the 10 points, we’ve been in terrific form,” said Everton boss Sean Dyche.

The Everton support have been galvanised by the perceived injustice of the severity of the points deduction and for once a raucous atmosphere was met with some reward at Goodison.

Everton’s only two home Premier League wins since March had both come against Bournemouth.

“We’ve got some talent but you’ve got to give everything and there is that connection with the fans because they are seeing a group of people giving everything.”

Newcastle’s away day blues

Newcastle have swept aside Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United at home this season.

But Eddie Howe’s men have won just once away from home all season in the Premier League.

Newcastle remain seventh, four points off the top four.

An injury crisis has meant Trippier has played virtually every minute of their Premier League and Champions League campaign so far.

However, Howe said his side cannot allow tiredness to become an excuse with a packed schedule still to come before the end of the year.

Newcastle face AC Milan in a do-or-die Champions League clash next week to reach the last 16 and face Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the League Cup, on top of their Premier League commitments in the busy festive period.

“We can’t look at it that way because we have more games to go,” said Howe.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things. When you don’t perform you have to take ownership of it as that’s the best way to improve. Certainly there is a lot to reflect on.”

Everton’s upturn in fortunes would have been even better but for a consistent failure to make the most of their chances at Goodison.

Dyche was left to rue his side’s profligacy in front of a goal as a positive first-half performance went without reward.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin then somehow blazed over with the goal gaping from close range after Newcastle failed to clear a free-kick into the box.

Alexander Isak headed the best of Newcastle’s openings wide in the first half when unmarked at the back post.

Anthony Gordon endured a frosty reception on his return to Goodison, but even the in-form winger was wasteful in front of goal.

Gordon fired straight at Jordan Pickford after robbing James Tarkowski on the edge of the box and then failed to keep his composure when blazing well off target from Isak’s through ball.

But the game swung in the closing stages on Trippier’s errors.

The right-back coughed up possession to allow McNeil to surge forward and smash a perfect strike past stand-in goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Moments later, Trippier was again at fault as this time he gifted Jack Harrison possession.

McNeil failed to make contact with Harrison’s cross, but the ball fell kindly to Doucoure to slot home.

Beto rounded off a perfect night for Everton late on as he showed impressive strength and produced a cool finish through Dubravka’s legs for his first goal at Goodison.

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