Tuesday 20 March 2018

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino hails side's grit

West Ham Utd 0 Tottenham 1

Tottenham Hotspur's Eric Dier shoots to score as West Ham United's Adrian looks on. Photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
Tottenham Hotspur's Eric Dier shoots to score as West Ham United's Adrian looks on. Photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
Tottenham Hotspur's Nabil Bentaleb celebrates with a fan after teammate Eric Dier's debut goal. Photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
West Ham United's Mark Noble challenges Tottenham Hotspur's goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
Referee Chris Foy sends Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Naughton (2nd R) off. Photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
West Ham United's Mark Knoble misses from the penalty spot. Photo credit: Phil Cole/PA Wire.

Ben Findon

Tottenham fell to West Ham three times last season but life under new manager Mauricio Pochettino is already different. The Argentinian coach opened a new era for Spurs by masterminding an unlikely victory at West Ham.

Reduced to 10 men by the controversial first-half dismissal of Kyle Naughton, Tottenham initially dug in, then moved forward through the introduction of substitute Andros Townsend and finally, two minutes into added time, grabbed victory through the impressive debutant Eric Dier.

How West Ham rued missed opportunities. In addition to Mark Noble's penalty miss, they paid heavily for James Collins's second-half red card, losing impetus and then their shape in the crucial closing stages.

"It was an unbelievable effort," said Pochettino. "We believed in our philosophy, we reorganised our system and carried on." He was less happy at Naughton's dismissal. "It was unfair because the ball was going outside of the target."

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce was quick to pinpoint his side's undoing. "There were three main factors. We created chances but weren't clinical enough to finish them off, Mark Noble for the first time in more than three years misses a penalty and allowing ourselves to go down to 10 v 10 was naive," he said.

But there were encouraging signs for the disaffected sections of Upton Park support as their side produced an adventurous display for at least the first hour.

Stewart Downing, wide on the right, getting forward at the uncertain Danny Rose at every opportunity, posed a regular threat while the powerfully built Cheikhou Kouyate, a £7m import from Anderlecht, brought strength to midfield.

West Ham's best chance came just before the half-hour mark. Collins flicked on Downing's corner and Kevin Nolan crashed the ball against Naughton's arm. The right-back, turning away from Nolan's blast, was distraught to see Chris Foy's red card.

Just as distraught as, in fact, Noble, who rolled the resultant penalty kick wide of the goal.

Still, the game seemed to be drifting towards a draw - despite the intervention of a fan who raced on to belt the ball, set up for a Spurs free-kick, that brought a save from Adrian - but Spurs had time to take advantage.

Dier started in central defence, switched to full-back and ended up as the matchwinner. The Cheltenham-born 20-year-old, whose family moved to Portugal when he was 10, timed his run to perfection, turning in Harry Kane's pass.


Sunday Indo Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport