Brilliant Bale to the rescue yet again
An unmarked Gareth Bale shoots to score the late, late winner for Tottenham at Upton Park last night. photograph: adam davy/pa wire
West Ham Utd 2 Tottenham 3On a night when West Ham remembered Bobby Moore they could not achieve the victory that would have served as the perfect tribute to their legendary captain, and it was another legend in the making who made the difference. Local hero Joe Cole struck early in the second half to put the hosts 2-1 up but Tottenham came back to win through a stoppage-time winner from Gareth Bale and climb above Chelsea into third place.
The match itself took a while to get going with Spurs content to feel their way into the contest. Their measured passing flowed through the former Hammer Scott Parker, and with Bale positioned just behind Emmanuel Adebayor there was always the danger that the visitors’ slow approach could suddenly be accelerated by the devastating Welshman.
It was the hosts who had the first real chance of the game when Gary O’Neil played a through pass to Matt Jarvis but the winger could only turn in a tame drive.
It was then Bale’s moment to strike. Guy Demel gave possession away just outside the hosts’ area and as James Collins, on his return from injury, backed off, Bale drove a low diagonal drive past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
The visitors took control, with Bale beginning to find more space as West Ham’s petrified defence again backed off and allowed him to fire off another shot at goal on 23 minutes. Jaaskelainen this time pulled off a save and moments later his team were level, with Howard Webb judging that Parker’s tackle on Carroll was worthy of the penalty. Parker was furious, but the decision stood and Carroll thumped the ball past Hugo Lloris to make it 1-1.
The remainder of the first half was a scrappy affair with West Ham’s attempts to build on their equaliser checked somewhat by an injury to their captain, Kevin Nolan, that led to him being replaced by Matt Taylor on 35 minutes. Jarvis did have a chance to put the hosts ahead only to see his shot superbly blocked by Kyle Walker. Steven Caulker’s point-blank header was then brilliantly saved by Jaaskelainen.
The visitors frustration only grew when Emmanuel Adebayor, unmarked and stood practically on the goalline, had his header saved by Jasskelainen after a shot from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson had come off the post.
And they were made to pay for their wastefulness on 58 minutes when Joe Cole scored in eye-catching style, collecting Joey O’Brien’s pass with his right foot before striking the ball past Lloris with his left.
The win should have been secured when Taylor, played onside by Michael Dawson, ran through on goal on 74 minutes only to see his drive well blocked by the outrushing Lloris. As was typical of the swing of the game, Spurs made their opponents pay soon after. Bale’s inswinging free-kick pinged across the area and having taken touches off O’Brien, Winston Reid and James Collins, fell to Sigurdsson at the back post who poked home to make it 2-2.
The visitors pushed for the winner and having seen Jaaskelainen make further saves from Aaron Lennon and Adebayor, eventually secured the decisive goal when Bale struck with a dipping drive deep from just outside the area.