Defoe's goals provide the perfect response to noisy detractors
Tottenham Hotspur 3 West Ham 1It is eight-and-a-half years since Jermain Defoe left West Ham United but the club’s fans will never forget. The Tottenham Hotspur striker’s every touch here was jeered and the abusive choruses from the away enclosure left him in no doubt as to where his stock stands in the East End. His response on the field, though, was articulate and emphatic.
Tottenham had lost their momentum from early in the first-half when Defoe received possession on halfway, wriggled away from challengers, jinked and sizzled a shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen. His ninth goal of the season for Tottenham was all his own work, it was simply outstanding and it would have filled him with satisfaction, although he resisted the temptation to make the point to his tormentors.
Defoe’s second of the afternoon was the consummate team goal, resulting from a decisive burst from Aaron Lennon and it moved Tottenham towards a vital result, which eased their recent nerves in the Premier League.
Gareth Bale, who also enjoyed an excellent game, scored their other one and a landmark goal for Andy Carroll, his first in nine appearances for West Ham, did not threaten to affect the outcome, despite it provoking a late rally from his team.
Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager, was left to lament a “poor performance,” riddled with uncharacteristic “defensive fragilities” but Andre Villas-Boas’s enjoyment was rather more pronounced. He pulled Defoe close when he substituted him late on and the striker could revel in public praise.
“Jermain’s first goal was decisive because it unlocked the game,” Villas-Boas said. “He’s an incredible striker, his form is absolutely immense. His hunger for goals is exactly what you want. We have been chasing this for some time – a solid 90-minute performance.”
His decision to drop William Gallas for Michael Dawson was vindicated; Clint Dempsey had a fine game and Mousa Dembele’s confinement to a late substitute’s cameo because of his on-going hip trouble was not problematic.
Tottenham were the better team from the first whistle, with Allardyce unable to explain what had gone wrong.
Tottenham’s bright start had featured Defoe looking lively and Bale hitting the underside of the crossbar from distance, following a blistering burst.
Defoe had endured a frustrated lull and he was booked for catching Winston Reid. But he sparked in breathtaking fashion just before half-time when he held the ball up on the right flank before spinning back inside between Reid and George McCartney. Running at Mark Noble, he cut inside him to make room for the right-footed shot and, from outside the area, it fizzed past Jaaskelainen.
Tottenham extended their lead when Bale took Dempsey’s cute chip and getting over his shot to force it into the far corner. Defoe’s second, made by Lennon, made the points safe for Tottenham. Carroll’s late headed goal proved a mere consolation.