West Ham and Spurs all square after Obiang and Son stunners
Hammers take an improbable lead but can't hold on as two strikes light up Wembley
Tottenham Hotspur’s Heung Min Son fires home the equaliser in the Premier League game against West Ham at Wembey Stadium. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA
Tottenham Hotspur 1 West Ham 1
There was little on for Pedro Obiang. Just as there had been little on for West Ham United, which had been no great surprise given David Moyes’s emphasis on being difficult to beat. And so the West Ham midfielder edged forward a little and decided to have a pop.
What happened next sent the travelling supporters into raptures and represented another step in the right direction for the club’s relegation battle. From fully 25 yards, Obiang fizzed a shot at Hugo Lloris’s top corner and the Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper had no answer.
Perhaps, Lloris was unhinged by the surprise factor. It was not only West Ham’s first shot of the evening but their first opening of any description. The smash and grab was on.
West Ham had already won the most important game of their week – the home fixture against their relegation rivals, West Bromwich Albion – and the pre-match theory had been this was something of a free hit, if a must-not-lose derby against hated rivals can be so considered.
A feature of Moyes’s tenure has been a cagey approach against Big Six opposition and, when he set up his team here, he could feel it had worked previously. West Ham were decent in defeat at Manchester City; they beat Chelsea at home and held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw.
West Ham were under no pressure to come out and they did not. They made it into the Tottenham penalty area only once during the first half, through Javier Hernandez and, when the striker cut the ball back, there was nobody there. Moyes started with four midfielders in front of his back five, with Manuel Lanzini, who worked off the left, sometimes pushing forward. The onus was on Tottenham to find a way through.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team probed for space and they got nothing for free. The first half was characterised by claret-and-blue shirts swarming all over their opponents whenever the ball entered West Ham’s defensive third and, especially, their penalty box. Moyes has made no apologies for his approach in this type of game and, with the imbalanced squad he has inherited, he need not.
Harry Kane was back in the Tottenham starting line-up and he had five flickers in or around the West Ham box in the first half without ever truly threatening. The moment that threatened to quicken the pulses of the home support stemmed from a raking Jan Vertonghen ball. Serge Aurier had raced up the right and he headed square for Kane but, when he stretched, he could not meet it. Kane also curled a 20 yard shot towards the bottom corner on 28 minutes. Adrian saved comfortably.
Tottenham had gone close following an Adrian handling error in the early running. The goalkeeper collided with Cheikhou Kouyate as he tried to collect a corner and he dropped the ball. When it broke to Davinson Sanchez, his shot was blocked.
West Ham could be pleased at their efforts to keep Tottenham at arm’s length in the first half; most of the home team’s attempts were from distance and there were a couple of ragged ones from Eric Dier and Aurier, which felt like signs of frustration.
Christian Eriksen fizzed a low one past the post, which Adrian looked to have covered, before he extended him fully on 45 minutes. Dele Alli teed up the chance with a nutmeg on Obiang and, when Eriksen unloaded, the shot flicked off Angelo Ogbonna and flew towards the top of the net. Adrian showed his agility to tip over.
It was a test of patience for Tottenham. Could Eriksen or Alli summon a moment of magic to unpick West Ham’s tightly compressed lines? It did not feel as if they had anything to worry about at the other end.
When Hernandez seized upon a Tottenham slip to race clear on 59 minutes, he was quickly reeled in by Sanchez and Vertonghen. No West Ham player tried to get up in support. Glorious isolation did not begin to cover it for Hernandez.
Tottenham continued to press. West Ham continued to throw bodies in front of them. Eriksen had a volley blocked by Winston Reid and another shot easily saved by Adrian. Kane turned Reid but Pablo Zabaleta stepped across to make the saving tackle. Then it happened. Obiang does not score many. This was only his third for the club. It is one he will remember for an awfully long time.
Tottenham were staring at a setback in their attempts to get closer to the top four. They needed a riposte. Heung-min Son provided it. Whatever Obiang could do, he evidently felt he could match. It was a similar kind of situation. Son had no clear options when he collected possession and he tried his luck. West Ham felt that Aurier had fouled Lanzini beforehand.
Son cut across the ball with his right boot and the swerve and power were too much for Adrian. It was a forgettable game, enlivened by two terrific goals, which made the closing stages exciting. West Ham departed the happier. After Son’s equaliser, West Ham might have nicked it through the substitute, Andre Ayew. This time, Lloris saved at close quarters. Defeat would have been brutally hard on Tottenham. – Guardian service