West Ham United took full advantage of Younes Kaboul’s first-half red card, scoring twice before the interval to secure the points at Upton Park on Saturday.
The defender was dismissed having been adjudged to be the last defender when he fouled Stewart Downing midway through the first half and the Hammers capitalised, benefitting from a Harry Kane own goal before Downing grabbed a second on the stroke of half-time.
On a gloriously sunny day in East London, we had the first sight of goal after just five minutes following a quick break down the right. Gylfi Sigurdsson got clear and sent a ball across for Christian Eriksen, who held it up and laid it off to the supporting Emmanuel Adebayor. Unfortunately though, his effort was weak and from the edge of the area and Adrian gathered the shot.
Always a threat from set-pieces, the home side hit the woodwork two minutes later when a corner fell to Guy Demel and his hooked effort from 18-yards looped up, bounced off the bar and fell into Hugo Lloris’ arms.
It was fairly end to end in the early stages and after Paulinho had headed Kyle Naughton’s cross straight at Adrian, Downing flashed a shot wide at the other end seconds later.
Then came the game’s defining moment on 24 minutes. A ball over the top found Downing through on goal, chased down by Danny Rose and Kaboul. Our French defender was clumsy in his challenge from behind, just outside the area, and after taking time to consider his decision, referee Phil Dowd showed Kaboul the red card.
From the free-kick, Andy Carroll drilled a left-footed effort which beat the wall but not Lloris who pulled off a magnificent diving save for a corner. Mark Noble took the set-piece, Carroll headed back across goal, but this time it flicked off the head of Kane and Sigurdsson on the line couldn’t prevent it going in.
We made a change, bringing on Vlad Chiriches for the unfortunate Kane, and the Hammers started to apply the pressure with their man advantage. Dawson headed away another dangerous cross and Rose had to be alert from George McCartney’s teasing low centre, with Carroll lurking at the far post.
As we tried to find a way back into the game, a long ball from Paulinho on 36 minutes looked to be falling for Adebayor but Winston Reid just got his head to it to flick it back to Adrian, while Lloris produced a superb stop shortly after, diving low to his left to tip Matt Taylor’s 20-yard half-volley round the post.
But the French keeper could do nothing about the Hammers second goal just a minute before the break. Dawson fouled Mark Noble 25 yards out, the free-kick was this time taken by Downing whose left-foot shot went through the wall and into the bottom corner and we trailed 2-0 at the interval.
We were thankful to Lloris again though five minutes into the second half as he made an outstanding double save. Downing’s cross was met by an overhead kick by Mo Diame from 12 yards which he kept out low down and then scrambled the rebound away with his legs as Kevin Nolan looked to poke home from close range. Taylor then curled just wide from the edge of the area.
And Lloris was there again on 56 minutes, racing off his line to deny Nolan from 12 yards after a long free-kick landed at the West Ham midfielder’s feet.
We were finding it hard to create chances at the other end, but there was an opportunity when Eriksen went on a jinking run forwards before finding Aaron Lennon, whose shot was blocked. The loose ball was sent wide to Rose on the left but his cross-shot was cleared.
Lloris denied another Taylor effort on 63 minutes, while Lennon lashed a shot well wide at the other end, before we made a double change with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Paulinho coming off for Sandro and Roberto Soldado.
And there was a chance for the latter replacement on 73 minutes when Eriksen clipped a delightfully weighted ball over McCartney and into Soldado, but he dragged his shot wide from a tight angle, before Lennon did likewise with a 20-yard drive moments later.
There were shouts for a penalty late on when Sandro’s cross appeared to strike the hand of Taylor, but the referee waved away our appeals, before the Brazilian midfielder hit a 20-yard volley well over. And a great chance came in stoppage time when Rose weaved his way past two defenders and fired a right-foot shot which Adrian saved with a superb diving effort. It just wasn’t to be our day.
Spurs: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Kaboul, Rose, Lennon, Paulinho (Sandro 65), Sigurdsson (Soldado 65), Eriksen, Adebayor, Kane (Chiriches 28). Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Fryers, Bentaleb, Pritchard.
West Ham: Adrian, McCartney, Reid, Tomkins, Demel, Noble, Diame, Downing, Nolan (Jarvis 88), Taylor, Carroll (Cole 84). Substitutes (not used): Jaaskelainen, Collins, Armero, Vaz Te, Nocerino.
Goals: West Ham – Kane own goal 27, Downing 44
Yellows: Spurs – Naughton, Dawson, Soldado, Sandro
Red: Spurs - Kaboul
Referee: Phil Dowd
Attendance: To follow...