Safety Guaranteed as Spurs Are Beaten
By Tom Dowsett
Saturday 06 May 2017 14:37:00
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West Ham United hadn't beaten any of the Premier League's "big clubs" so far this season. Well they were obviously saving it for Tottenham Hotspur, who they beat 1-0 on Friday night.

Slaven Bilic made three changes to the team that secured a valuable point at Stoke City last time out. Aaron Cresswell was restored to the starting line-up in place of Arthur Masuaku, who sustained a knock to his foot, Havard Nordveit dropped to the bench in favour of Sam Byram, while Edimilson Fernándes was also included amongst the substitutes, as club captain Mark Noble returned to the side.

The atmosphere was reminiscent of that from the EFL Cup fourth-round tie against Chelsea back in October and that seemed to inspire the home side, who were desperate to continue their unbeaten run.

They had a great chance to go in front with just six minutes gone, when André Ayew played the perfect ball to Manuel Lanzini, who only had visiting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to beat but instead he shot wide.

With Chelsea not playing until Monday, Spurs were desperate to try and close the gap between them and the current league leaders. 

Although it was Mauricio Pochettino's men who tried to make the early breakthrough, the home side's defensive work was resolute.

Harry Kane worried Adrian with a long-range effort and although Winston Reid then got a vital touch on Dele Alli's follow-up, when the ball fell invitingly back to the former Millwall loanee, the Spaniard made an outstanding save and diverted the ball out for a corner.

Thankfully for Bilic though, the keeper was alert to Eric Dier's header and again thwarted Spurs.

On 27 minutes, the home faithful wanted a penalty after Lloris appeared to make contact with Lanzini after the midfielder had been sent clear by the skipper. In fact, they were even more bemused when the Frenchman stayed on the pitch.

That said, the majority of fans were content with the team's efforts in the first-half but were still looking for more after the break.

The Hammers didn't let their tempo drop when the action restarted, as they were looking to get the better of their London rivals for the second consecutive home fixture.

They had another great chance just six minutes in as Byram ran down the right wing and crossed into the box but unfortunately, Ayew couldn't get a good enough connection on the ball and blazed over.

Spurs then showed signs of the threat they can pose just after the hour mark but fortunately, Adrian reacted superbly by tipping Son Heung-Min's effort past the post.

Three sides of the stadium then had something to shout about, as the Hammers scored their first goal in three matches after Byram performed heroics to keep Cresswell's ball alive and cut the ball back to Ayew, who then set up Lanzini and he did the rest. Many thought it was going to be a special night and boy, that just made it even more of an occasion.

West Ham had further chances to extend their advantage, the best of which came when the ball fell to Jonathan Calleri in the box, he turned and smashed a powerful shot but Lloris produced a stupendous stop to prevent the ball beating him.

With 83 minutes gone, Bilic made his first change, replacing Ayew with Robert Snodgrass and as the game drew to a close, Ashley Fletcher and Fernandes soon followed, taking the places of both Calleri and Lanzini.

The home fans were again aghast when five minutes of stoppage time were signalled but in truth the visitors had run out of steam.

The final whistle meant that, not only had the East Londoners recorded yet another victory over the old enemy, but  they had guaranteed another season of top-flight football.

If the Irons can claim a result like this against Spurs, who knows what they can do to Liverpool when they make the trip to Stratford next Sunday.

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