Robert Green was just about the only goalkeeper to emerge from the wreckage of England's Euro 2008 qualifying campaign with any credit, and that was because he took no part in it. Steve McClaren's exclusion of West Ham's in-form keeper bemused many and led to the 27-year-old being held up as the answer to England's goalkeeping problems.
Green just about maintained that reputation with an injury-time penalty save from the former West Ham striker Jermain Defoe, which made up for his glaring error which gifted Spurs an equaliser. Green's penalty save, diving to his left to turn Defoe's poor shot onto the post, was his third of the season and earned West Ham a point they deserved in a scrappy, but full-blooded London derby.
The Tottenham manager, Juande Ramos, felt Green was lucky to be on the pitch at that stage after bringing down Robbie Keane in the first half. Keane beat West Ham's offside trap to latch on to Younes Kaboul's long ball and flicked the ball over the onrushing Green, whose trailing leg seemed to catch the Tottenham forward. Keane went to ground as the ball drifted wide of the post.
Whether the Tottenham captain would have fallen had he been able to get on the end of his flick remained debatable even after television replays. Ramos was in no doubt, however, and felt that it should not only have been a penalty, but also a red card for Green. "It would have been a decision that would have changed the game," he said.
West Ham manager Alan Curbishley saw it differently and felt that Keane made the most of the situation. "Once he flicked it over Green I think there may have been a bit of contact but I think Robbie realised there was contact when the ball was going wide."
That incident came at the end of a first half which Spurs began well but gifted West Ham the lead in the 20th minute. Kaboul's attempted clearance was charged down by Luis Boa Morte, whose clever reverse ball found Nolberto Solano. The Peruvian brilliantly squared the ball when most would have shot and Carlton Cole was left with the task of putting the ball into the empty net. The goal gave West Ham an impetus that had been severely lacking and Boa Morte could have put them two up, but Paul Robinson stood up well to his close-range drive in the 26th minute.
The second half saw Ramos make in early tactical adjustment in a bid to rescue the game, replacing the hapless Kaboul with Darren Bent. While the removal of Kaboul should, in theory, have eased the confusion in the Spurs backline, the ensuing formation adopted by Juande Ramos seemed initially to involve players defending on a voluntary basis.
While the tactical change did little to ease Tottenham's defensive malaise – with Michael Dawson's resolute display holding them together – the adjustment did allow them to gain control of the midfield, with Steed Malbranque becoming more and more prominent as the game progressed. It was Dawson who got their equaliser heading in a 67th minute Jermaine Jenas free kick with Green hopelessly out of position.
The booing of England internationals involved in the failed Euro 2008 campaign continued at Upton Park, although you got the impression that the West Ham fans' taunting of Tottenham goalkeeper Robinson had less to do with his displays for England, and was more in the hope of him making an error that would benefit their side. Robinson answered his critics by making saves in the second half from Scott Parker and Dean Ashton.
Defoe's penalty, after he had been brought down by Lucas Neill, gave Spurs the chance to take all three points, but ultimately it was Green who emerged the hero. Unfortunately there was no England manager there to take note.
Goals: Cole (20) 0-1; Dawson (67) 1-1.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Green, Neill, Gabbidon, Upson, McCartney, Solano (Spector, 82), Mullins, Noble (Parker, 63), Etherington, Cole, Boa Morte (Ashton, 72). Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Collins.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul (Bent, 54), Bale, Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque, Berbatov, Keane (Defoe, 78). Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Lee, Boateng.
Referee: M Riley (Yorkshire).
Booked: West Ham Cole, Etherington; Tottenham Zokora, Chimbonda, Dawson, Defoe.
Man of the match: Upson.
Mark Noble (West Ham)
The Under-21 midfielder, 20, worked hard, looking comfortable on the ball. Unsurprisingly for someone returning from a double hernia operation, Noble tired as the game went on.Reuse content