Hammers punished by lethal Defoe

West Ham 1 Tottenham 2
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The Independent Football

The spirit of fair play is one of football's most cherished tenets but West Ham arguably overdid it yesterday.

Twice Gianfranco Zola's men gifted possession to Tottenham in dangerous areas and twice the visitors profited from it, coming from behind to preserve their perfect record and sit joint top of the Premier League. It is only three games, but this is their best start to a league season since 1960-61. That year they went on to win the League and Cup Double. Tottenham fans: prepare to dream.

Understandably Harry Redknapp poured water on comparing this current team to their legendary predecessors. Asked whether they would or wouldn't match those feats, the Spurs manager, who was a teenager when that team was emerging, immediately gave three reasons why this side could not do as well: "We haven't got Bill Nicholson, Danny Blanchflower or Dave Mackay."

Given the scoring form he is in now, Jermain Defoe does not need any inspiration from history nor any extra help from the opposition but that is what he got yesterday, from Carlton Cole. It put the sides level, after Cole had opened the scoring, and West Ham repeated the dose 25 minutes later, helping Aaron Lennon to score the winner.

The way Defoe's strike came about could not have been from a more harmless situation, but it gave Spurs renewed belief, having been second best for long stretches of this derby.

Zola took a lot of encouragement from the way his side played but it doesn't need a man of his experience to realise if his players can cut out their elementary mistakes then they will be doing themselves a great service. Zola also mentioned their desperate need for another striker, to lend support to Cole. His search may end soon, however, as Marouane Chamakh of Bordeaux could move this week.

Cole was possibly feeling that life was just fine and dandy, prior to giving the ball away senselessly. The forward is part of Fabio Capello's plans for England this season, having played against the Dutch two weeks ago, and he then scored his first goal of the season. After a long clearance by Robert Green, one bounce and a header out of defence saw the ball fall to Cole. Without hesitating, he swivelled and lashed his shot past Carlo Cudicini from 22 yards.

Five minutes later came Cole's moment of madness. He casually stroked a pass from midfield towards his own goal in the vague direction of either Matthew Upson or James Collins but instead he found Defoe.

Right now there is not a player he would have wished less to give the ball to. Defoe had already scored five goals this season, including a hat-trick against Hull last week, and he did not hesitate to profit from Cole's misfortune. One touch took him away from his marker and he beat Green from 12 yards. Capello was in attendance at the Boleyn Ground and Cole's mistake would not have impressed him, although Defoe's sixth goal of the season and Lennon's persistence on the right flank were good news ahead of England's next World Cup qualifiers.

Lennon had been having one of those days when his crosses appeared aimless but when Vedran Corluka tried to slip a pass inside Jonathan Spector, the West Ham player's touch gave the ball straight to the winger.

Lennon then cut inside and from 20 yards he curled his shot inside the post. Despite his unflattering comparisons with the 1960/61 side, Redknapp did not rule out his players pushing on for a top-four finish this year.

He said: "It could be an open league. We can push for it and have a go. We've had a good start."

Despite the setting of a London derby, all the supporters put their loyalties to one side to give a round of applause in honour of West Ham defender Calum Davenport, who was stabbed in both legs when at home with his mother on Friday night. The 26-year-old was with Spurs before being sold to West Ham in January 2007 for £3m. Zola said: "We are really sorry about what's happened. It's a terrible story and we are close to him. We hope he gets better very quickly." Feelings Redknapp echoed wholeheartedly.

West Ham 4-1-3-2: Green; Faubert, Collins, Upson, Spector; Parker (Hines, 84); Noble, Collison (Nouble, 89), Stanislas; Jimenez (Kovac, 78), Cole. Substitutes not used: Kurucz (gk), Gabbidon, Tomkins, Payne.

Tottenham 4-4-2: Cudicini; Corluka, King, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios, Modric (O'Hara, 87); Keane (Crouch, 80), Defoe (Naughton, 90). Substitutes not used: Button (gk), Hutton, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Co Durham).

Booked: West Ham Jimenez, Faubert; Tottenham Huddlestone.

Man of the Match: Palacios.

Attendance: 33,095

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