West Ham battle back to heap pain on Spurs

football07 December 2023 22:21| © Reuters

Early-season Premier League pacesetters Tottenham slipped to a fourth defeat in five matches on Wednesday, going down 2-1 to West Ham after throwing away the lead yet again.

Ange Postecoglou's team raced out of the blocks at the start of the campaign, winning eight of their first 10 games to top the table.

But their momentum has slowed dramatically in recent weeks and they now find themselves nine points behind leaders and bitter London rivals Arsenal.

Spurs came into the match in buoyant mood after an enthralling 3-3 weekend draw against champions Manchester City and they started in style at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Cristian Romero put the home side ahead early, just reward for their dominance, but the visitors equalised through Jarrod Bowen shortly after halftime and James Ward-Prowse completed the turnaround in the 74th minute.

Tottenham, who have caught the eye with their attacking verve, enjoyed around 90 per cent possession in the opening minutes as the visitors struggled to get their foot on the ball.

They got the reward they deserved in the 11th minute, when Romero met an outswinging corner from Pedro Porro and guided his header into the top corner from the centre of the penalty box.

The home team continued to dominate and create chances, with Dejan Kulusevski catching the eye.

Giovani Lo Celso's shot in the 35th minute was saved by Lukasz Fabianski before Brennan Johnson fired straight at the goalkeeper

But Spurs failed to make their overwhelming superiority count and were grateful when Lucas Paqueta headed wide after a fine cross from Mohammed Kudus in the closing minutes of the first half.

The second period was a different story, with West Ham dangerous on the break and Spurs looking far less of a threat.

Bowen made no mistake from close range in the 52nd minute after Kudus's shot was deflected into his path.

Spurs substitute Richarlison came agonisingly close to levelling with his first touch but his header was inches wide of the back post.

Instead it was West Ham who scored next, taking advantage of a defensive calamity.

Destiny Udogie played a back pass back to goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario but it was short and Vicario could only parry it away to Ward-Prowse, who hit the post but tucked the rebound into an empty net.

For the fifth game running they failed to win after scoring first.

The defeat leaves Spurs in fifth spot, three points outside the top four, while West Ham are ninth.