West Ham United move into the Champions League places as goals from Antonio and Lingard lead David Moyes’ side to victory over Tottenham and heap more pressure for Mourinho.
West Ham is just one point off Manchester United and Leicester City after yet another impressive victory at home. On the other hand, the worrying reality for Mourinho is that this result isn’t even a surprise. It’s almost predictable.
Meanwhile, there comes a point at every club where the “powers” aren’t simply working just as in the case of Tottenham Hotspurs. Suffering defeats to West Ham when you are a Spurs coach is always bitter to swallow.
Regardless, West Ham showed all facets to climb up to fourth in the table. At first glance, West Ham’s fifth-minute opener was another Hugo Lloris aberration. On second glance, that initial assertion was slightly unfair.
Lloris could only parry into Antonio’s path leaving the Hammers forward with the simplest task of scoring from a yard. All eyes were on Lloris again despite the fact he was in the spotlight in recent weeks. However, replays alleviated at least some of the blame on the Frenchman, Antonio getting the deftest of touches on Bowen’s ball.
Moyes didn’t give two hoots and neither did Mourinho. Only pressure mounted for the latter. Had Jesse Lingard’s pass been slightly more accurate, Antonio would have added a second six minutes later as Tanguy Ndombele and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg combined to lose possession in midfield.
Harry Kane wasted two opportunities to level in quick succession, his first effort from Erik Lamela’s pass thrashed wide in a good position before Craig Dawson produced a brave block to deny the England captain soon after.
The second preceded by a nasty clash of heads between Davinson Sanchez and Tomas Soucek, which left the latter bloodied.
The Hammers midfielder, following an initial assessment on the pitch, was escorted back down the tunnel for treatment before being reintroduced seven minutes after the clash; Moyes deciding against making a concussion substitute despite Tottenham’s numerical advantage while Soucek was patched up.
Not that Spurs managed to make playing against 10 men count. But there were signs, at least, that Tottenham was trying to make things happen in the final third. Plenty of the ball, plenty of probing – the final product was, frankly, disappointing.
Their lack of incision nearly came home to roost in the 38th minute, Lloris bailing his team out in the 38th minute by tipping Dawson’s bullet header from Aaron Cresswell’s corner over the bar.
Spurs best opportunity came in deep into first-half stoppage time; inevitably it was Kane again – his well-struck angled drive well said by Lukasz Fabianski before Eric Dier glanced a header from the resultant corner wide. Mourinho wouldn’t have been doing any cartwheels at half-time – but there was enough encouragement there was something in this game from Tottenham.
Indeed, the introduction of Gareth Bale, in place of Lamela, at half-time a signal of Mourinho’s intent, while Matt Doherty also replaced Japhet Tanganga – who’d taken a nasty blow to the nether regions towards the end of the first half, at the break.
But those grand plans were torn up within two minutes of the restart as Lingard ripped through the heart of Spurs defense before firing a far-post shot crisply past Lloris.
West Ham had to endure a brief VAR check, but that was merely delaying the inevitable for Spurs. Hands in his pockets, Mourinho cut a forlorn figure. His players, though, weren’t prepared to cave.
Kane flashed a free-kick agonizingly wide in the 59th minute before Bale evoked memories of bygone days in a Spurs shot with a piercing run towards the Spurs defense before a well-struck shot saved Fabianski. And in the 64th minute, Spurs grabbed a lifeline as Lucas Moura, all 5ft 8ins of him, rose highest to nod home Bale’s corner.
This was the second half Mourinho had envisaged; Bale’s influence was growing while Kane was getting closer – another effort in the 73rd minute whizzing inches past the post. Dele Alli’s reintegration into the first-team fold continued in the 77th minute when he was introduced in place of left-back Sergio Regulion – a clear statement of Mourinho’s intentions.
Bale crashed an audacious effort from Kane’s pass onto the crossbar in the 79th minute.
And injury time, the woodwork came to West Ham’s rescue again when Vladimir Coufal’s clearance bounced off Heung-min Son only to loop over Fabianski and onto the foot of the post.
Perhaps Tottenham were unlucky here. But Mourinho should know more than most that you make your own luck.