West Ham vs Tottenham match report: Eric Dier delights with his late winner
West Ham 0 Tottenham 1: But the debutant’s stoppage-time strike for Tottenham merely adds to the pressure growing on Allardyce at West Ham
Saturday 16 August 2014
Mauricio Pochettino had the word for young Eric Dier: “Hero.” His contribution meant Tottenham Hotspur had the three points.
The England Under-21 defender provided the perfect ending, Spurs halted a run of defeats against West Ham United and the new regime enjoyed the perfect start to the season. Sam Allardyce’s old problems meanwhile only continue after this late, late 1-0 defeat. The pressure on him remains.
With both sides reduced to 10 men for red cards shown to Kyle Naughton and then James Collins, the game had seemed to be petering out to a 0-0 draw. It would have been one that Allardyce could still feel more aggrieved about, not least after Mark Noble missed the penalty following Naughton’s red card for handball and all the chances his team missed. Stewart Downing had squandered the chance to win it for the home side before Spurs’ stoppage-time winner, .
Then, it got a whole lot worse for West Ham.
For Dier, it couldn’t have got much better. After substitute Harry Kane expertly exploited the home side’s offside line, Dier sharply rounded Adrian to roll the ball in for a late winner and an utterly glorious debut.
It was quite a return to England, given that Dier moved to Portugal when he was just 10 years old. Pochettino beamed with delight about the moment. “I’m very pleased for him,” the new Tottenham boss said. “It was his debut. And, like all the team, it was a great performance.”
This was not just a new name to get excited about, though. It was also a potential sign of a new Tottenham.
The club has become notorious for its collapses in recent years, with that weakness appearing to come to a head last season, particularly after red cards. Here it was the opposite, and Pochettino made a point of repeatedly stressing that attitude of resilience and perseverance, that “philosophy”.
“This is our philosophy,” the manager said. “Believe, always, 90-95 minutes, believe in winning the game. This is our philosophy. Always play in the opponents’ goal and try to win every game.”
That fortitude was all the more important because this was not the most impressive display. The new era evidently hasn’t yet seen Pochettino apply the best of his approach. The pressing and possession he has become so renowned for was not visible here.
That meant Spurs were often under pressure, especially in the opening 28 minutes. Although Pochettino justifiably felt the red card for Naughton was “unfair” after a Kevin Nolan shot smashed into the defender’s raised arms, it was the consequence of concerted West Ham attacking. There was still no end product, though, as Noble rolled the penalty wide.
It was just one of many moments in which West Ham were off target. Allardyce was left to lament a familiar failing, which was all the more galling because this had been a genuinely proactive performance.
“I can’t complain about the performance, can’t complain about the football played,” the West Ham manager said. “I can complain about the fact we didn’t finish well enough, didn’t finish clinically.
“We haven’t deserved to lose, played very, very well. On that performance today, I’m very confident our season’s going to be a very, very good one. We can’t get too downhearted but need to keep the level of performance.
“I suppose having another goalscorer is the critical thing. And he must play.”
Allardyce did have one other complaint: a “naivety” in his team allowing themselves to go down to 10 men as Collins was sent off for a second bookable offence after hauling down Emmanuel Adebayor.
That levelled things up but let Spurs go on to win the match.
Afterwards, Pochettino was asked if his team were lucky.
“No,” he asserted firmly. “Because when you believe, when you have a plan… in football sometimes things happen that are difficult to manage but the team believe.”
That belief will not exactly be damaged after a win like this.
New season… new Spurs?
West Ham United (4-5-1): Adrian; O’Brien (Demel, 61), Collins, Reid, Cresswell; Downing, Kouyate, Nolan, Noble, Vaz Te (Diame, 68); Collins.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul, Dier, Rose; Bentaleb, Capoue; Lamela (Holtby, 61), Eriksen, Lennon (Townsend, 61); Adebayor (Kane, 83).
Referee: Chris Foy.
Man of the match: Eric Dier (Tottenham).
Match rating: 7/10
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