Late Tottenham goal nicks the points from West Ham in the battle of the 10 men
17:39 16 August 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
The Hammers miss a penalty as they start off the new season with a home defeat against rivals Spurs
West Ham United 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1
It proved to be heartbreak for the Hammers at Upton Park, where Eric Dier’s stoppage-time winner saw Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino kick-off with an unexpected win.
Debutant Dier- a summer capture from Sporting Lisbon - gave the visitors all three points on an afternoon when Sam Allardyce was left to rue Mark Noble’s first-half penalty miss and the fact that his team had gone on to enjoy half-an-hour against 10-man Tottenham.
Indeed, having netted his last 10 penalties in an unblemished five-year run, Noble rolled his controversial spot-kick wide of the target on the half-hour mark, seconds after Kyle Naughton had been controversially dismissed for handball.
And having then failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage, Big Sam then saw James Collins dismissed for a second yellow card on 62 minutes to give Spurs a lifeline.
The Hammers, who kicked off the new campaign looking to build on last season’s epic hat-trick of victories over Tottenham, handed debuts to Cheikhou Kouyate and Aaron Cresswell, while the new-boy trio of Enner Valencia, Mauro Zarate and Diego Poyet were named on the bench.
Taking charge for the first time, Pochettino gave summer-signing Dier a first start for Spurs, while Ben Davies found himself named as substitute but, after an injury-laden last term, the visitors must have felt that they had another fresh face, too, in the form of club-record signing, Erik Lamela.
Indeed, the Argentine international looked lively in the opening exchanges as both Winston Reid and then Collins made last-gasp interceptions, before Christian Eriksen curled a 25-yard free-kick into the clutches of Adrian, after referee Chris Foy had sprayed the newly-introduced, vanishing foam for the first-time ever on the Boleyn Ground grass.
At the other end, Carlton Cole scooped over the angle and, shortly afterwards, the lone-striker just could not bring down Stewart Downing’s teasing right-wing cross.
Midway through the first-half, Collins glanced on Noble’s corner but Ricardo Vaz Te failed to find a far-post finish and then the Welsh defender nodded another flag-kick over the top, after Danny Rose had scrambled the ball away from the in-rushing Downing.
With West Ham gaining the upper hand, Kouyate sent a diving header inches wide and, as the half-hour mark approached, Big Sam’s side had a brilliant opportunity to break the deadlock, when Naughton was harshly adjudged to have deliberately handled Kevin Nolan’s point-blank, shot on the turn, inside the six-yard box.
To add insult to injury, the Spurs defender also received an equally debatable red card but, uncharacteristically, with Hugo Lloris diving to his left, Noble inexplicably rolled the consequent spot-kick beyond the base of the ‘keeper’s right-hand post to leave Upton Park looking on in stunned silence.
Still the 10 men of Spurs came under pressure, though, as Vaz Te volleyed across goal before then seeing his downward-bouncing header saved by Lloris to keep it goalless at the break.
Just after the restart, Downing’s 20-yard grass-cutter was parried aside Lloris, who then recovered well to tip the ball away from an incoming Noble, anxiously looking to atone for first-half penalty shocker.
Crucially, Collins was then cautioned for felling the fleeing Lamela, before Guy Demel replaced Joey O’Brien in the right-back slot on the hour-mark.
Spurs also introduced Lewis Holtby and Andros Townsend at the expense of Lamela and Aaron Lennon and, within minutes, Spurs also found further fresh impetus, when Collins was dismissed for checking Emmanuel Adebayor at the cost of a second yellow card within the space of ten minutes.
With Eriksen having placed the ball on the turf, a pitch-invader bizarrely sprinted the length of the pitch before curling a shot into the arms of Adrian before being man-handled away by a posse of stewards.
And on a day when both sides were struggling to find the target, it was perhaps fitting that the intruder went closer than the Spurs playmaker, who subsequently curled his own free-kick high over the bar.
Townsend marked his arrival with two fine efforts that whistled just wide before Noble’s first time shot was saved by a now less than busy Lloris.
With the clock ticking down, Mohammed Diame came on for Vaz Te, while Allardyce also responded to calls from the crowd as he pitched on Valencia in place of Cole for the final 10 minutes and the World Cup striker quickly endeared himself to the home crowd by forcing an unlikely corner.
Valencia’s arrival looked to have tipped the pendulum back towards the Hammers and, indeed, only a brilliant parry by Lloris prevented Downing from bagging a late, late winner, while at the other end, Adrian looked to have saved his best until last, too, when he beat out Nabil Bentaleb’s last-gasp stinger.
But just when both sides looked all set for an opening-day point, Eriksen sent debutant Dier behind the pushed-up Hammers defence and he coolly rounded Adrian before slotting home and giving Spurs victory.
HAMMERS: Adrian, O’Brien (Demel 61), Cresswell, Reid, Collins, Downing, Vaz Te (Diame 67), Kouyate, Noble, Nolan, Cole (Valencia 81). Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Zarate, Poyet, Burke.
SPURS: Lloris, Naughton, Rose, Kaboul, Dier, Capoue, Bentaleb, Lennon (Townsend 61), Eriksen, Lamela, (Holtby 61), Adebayor. (Kane 82) Unused subs: Friedel, Soldado, Dawson, Davies.
Booked: Collins (53), Kouyate (90+2).
Sent Off: Naughton (29), Collins (62).
Referee: Chris Foy