Monday 18 December 2017

Survival relief for Allardyce

West Ham 2 Tottenham 0

West Ham United's Stewart Downing scores his sides second goal
West Ham United's Stewart Downing scores his sides second goal
West Ham United's Andy Carroll celebrates scoring his sides first goal
West Ham United's Kevin Nolan and Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Naughton compete for the ball
Matthew Taylor of West Ham directs a shot on goal

Gerry Cox

Sam Allardyce made the point that the mood of supporters can change completely after a victory, and it does not get much better for West Ham's fans than beating bitter rivals Tottenham for the third time in a season and ensuring Premier League survival at the same time.

It might be stretching a point to say Allardyce is now back in favour with the Upton Park faithful, but he and his players did a 'lap of appreciation' after beating a Spurs side reduced to 10 men for more than an hour following the first-half dismissal of Younes Kaboul.

Allardyce was the subject of supporters' anger last week when his side lost at West Brom, their fourth defeat in a row. One banner accused Allardyce of 'killing West Ham United', but after this victory saved them – for another year at least – he said: "One week you are not playing so well and people sound their disapproval, which they are quite entitled to do. But they get behind you when they've got something to get behind."

Once Kaboul was sent off for bundling over Stewart Downing as he ran in on goal, the home side took control. Harry Kane headed an own goal shortly after Kaboul's dismissal and Downing drilled in a free-kick before half-time to effectively seal the points that should help Allardyce's case in the summer.

Tim Sherwood, on the other hand, is likely to be Tottenham's manager for only one more week, with the club beginning the search for his successor.

Mauricio Pochettino and Frank de Boer are the two leading candidates, and whoever gets the job will have the task of reinvigorating a club whose challenge for a Champions League place petered out earlier than usual.

Spurs barely registered a shot on target and but for another man-of-the-match performance from Hugo Lloris, would have lost by more than two goals.

Lloris had little chance when Andy Carroll headed on a corner and Kane inadvertently flicked it into the roof of his own net.

And from a deep cross, Danny Rose almost put the ball past Lloris, who then made a superb save to keep out a well-struck volley from Matt Taylor. But again the Frenchman was left exposed as West Ham increased their lead.

Michael Dawson fouled Mark Noble 20 yards from goal, and Downing was able to find a hole in the wall. West Ham's supporters could begin celebrating their own salvation and taunt their rivals.

Mohamed Diame's superb overhead volley was matched by an excellent save from Lloris, who then made an even better save moments later when the ball fell for Kevin Nolan in front of goal. West Ham's captain spun and shot towards goal from close range, but Lloris was already on top of him to block the shot.

"But for Lloris, I think we would have had far more than two," added Allardyce. "The fans were right behind the team from start to finish because they knew they were playing well."

Sherwood said: "It was always going to be a tough place to come, and when we go down to 10 men and they score a minute after it is going to be a difficult afternoon.

"Then, obviously, the free-kick goes straight through the middle of our wall, which isn't ideal, and then you've got the mountain to climb."

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