Tottenham stunned as bitter rivals West Ham kill off their Premier League title challenge thanks to Manuel Lanzini goal

West Ham 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0: Manuel Lanzini fired past Hugo Lloris from close-range to end Tottenham's hopes of overhauling Chelsea in a huge upset in east London

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The Independent Football

West Ham United are trying to create new memories for themselves at the London Stadium and here they made one that will stay with them forever: killing Tottenham’s title challenge. 

This was the type of raucous evening they used to have at the Boleyn Ground, players and fans feeding off each other’s energy as they overwhelmed their guests. It ended with Dele Alli, slumped inside his own goal, having to be dragged to his feet by Ben Davies. The West Ham fans could not contain their glee at handing this year’s title finally to Chelsea. 

The gap between top two teams is still four points but if Chelsea beat Middlesbrough on Monday, as they surely will, it will be back up to seven with three games left. Chelsea can end it next Friday by winning at West Bromwich Albion. This title race could well be over by this time next week.

It already feels like a different time, but just five days ago Spurs blew Arsenal away at White Hart Lane. Here, for the first time in months, they looked to have run out of steam. They had won nine straight in the league before this one but here they had nothing left in their legs. They simply could not summon up their usual energy to play their pressing game.

The problem is that without that aggressive energy, Spurs fall apart. Here they were dangerously open at the back, as they failed to press properly and left themselves vulnerable to the ball over the top. This is the best defence in the country but they certainly did not look like it here. They were always open on the break, more open than they have been in years, and West Ham could always get in behind. If they had a better striker than Jonathan Calleri they would have won by more.

To see Spurs this ragged, this vulnerable and at risk of a heavy beating from one of the worst teams in the league, it was clear that this game was one too far for Tottenham. It was unfairly labelled a “bottle job” on television but their failings were more physical than mental.

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Noble set the tone with a crunching early tackle (Getty)

Even going forward, Spurs could not create their usual flow of chances. Kane and Dele Alli have shredded plenty of teams this year but here they could not. Adrian had to make one sharp double save from Kane in the first half but that was it. Even at the end when Spurs tried to raise it, it never felt like a siege.

At no point really did Spurs play like a team desperate to reduce the gap with Chelsea down to one point, for 72 hours at least. West Ham had won just one of their last 11 league games but they were livelier than Spurs throughout. They pressed and pushed Spurs into mistakes, snapping into tackles and causing problems. Mark Noble’s late lung on Eric Dier was reckless but it did show that this evening, in this derby, West Ham would be walked over.

Spurs were so unusually open at the back. Manuel Lanzini raced through but skewed wide, Sam Byram nearly scored a far-post header before Lanzini raced in again and was cleaned out by Hugo Lloris. 

West Ham sensed their opportunity and came out for the second half even harder. Ayew should have done better from the edge of the box than just hit the ball over the bar. Calleri started to get in good positions but could never convert.

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Kane could not break the deadlock (AFP/Getty Images)

When the goal West Ham deserved eventually came, it was a scrappy, not that anyone here cared. Cresswell’s cross was blocked, he tried again. Byram scuffed another cross from the opposite side.  Ayew’s shot was blocked by Jan Vertonghen. Only Lanzini could strike the ball cleanly and it flew past Lloris and in.

Even at 1-0 down, fighting to keep their season alive, Spurs could not wake up. Mousa Dembele and Vincent Janssen came on but Spurs were still poor at the back. When Alderweireld gifted the ball to Calleri he should have been punished. But the Argentine could not beat Lloris from close range.

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Lanzini fires past Lloris from close-range (Getty)

Normally there would have been a Spurs surge at the end to get back into the game. But when they tried to crank the energy up, there was nothing left in the tank. They could not get anything going, and Christian Eriksen whistling one wide from 25 yards was as good as it got.

It was a shame for such a heroic season to end this meekly but they simply could not match West Ham on the night. It was Bilic’s side who brought more energy and ideas here this evening, as surprising as that might seem. Spurs’ race is run, for this season at least.

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