Sunday, March 4, 2007
Tottenham Hotspur travelled to Upton Park earlier today to face West Ham United, currently the bottom team in the table. West Ham were 10 points adrift of relegation safety at kickoff, and desperately needed points to secure a stay in the Premiership for next season. Tottenham on the other hand have been enjoying a good run of play as of late, and had a chance to jump above Portsmouth into 8th position in the Premiership.
West Ham started strongly in the match, desperately trying to bring the game to Tottenham with the support of their home fans urging them on. West Ham's first effort came in the second minute, but keeper Paul Robinson was able to beat away the shot of Mark Noble. Things took a downturn for the Hammers several minutes later, when Matthew Upson was forced off the pitch after aggravating a calf injury, and was replaced by Calum Davenport. Dimitar Berbatov then had two great chances for Tottenham, as he went one on one with keeper Robert Green, but Green was able to stop the Bulgarians attempts both times. West Ham continued to press, and were rewarded with a goal on 16 minutes. Paul Konchesky's pass was chested down by Argentinian Carlos Tevez, and Mark Noble half-volleyed the ball into the back of the net. Tottenham nearly got an equilizer only minutes later after a defensive error by West Ham, but Berbatov's shot was again saved by Green. More chances came for both sides in the forms of Defoe for Tottenham and Harewood for West Ham, but the next goal would come through the young Carlos Tevez. Michael Dawson fouled the Argintinian on the outside of the 18 yard box, and Tevez curved the ensuing free kick in under the crossbar. The goal was Teves' first since joining West Ham at the beginning of the season. He was booked for his goal celebration as he ripped off his shirt and ran into a group of cheering fans.
Tottenham made a change to start the second half, substituting Tom Huddlestone for Hossam Ghaly, and Huddlestones prescence helped Tottenham to control the midfield. They used their control to its potential, and Aaron Lennon was able to earn a penalty after being brought down by Lee Bowyer in the area. Jermain Defoe stepped up and slotted the ball past Green to cut the Hammers lead in half. Spurs continued to press for an equilizer, and got it in the 63 minute as Lennon flicked a Berbatov cross into the path of Tainio, and the Finnish international volleyed the ball past Green. The tying goal seemed to wake West Ham up, and Bobby Zamora and Keppa Blanco were added to the mix to try and save the 3 points for the home side. West Ham got their goal, and Tevez was involved again as his cross was headed home by substitute Zamora. As 90 minutes approached, Tottenham won a free kick on the edge of the box, and Dimitar Berbatov stepped up to the plate. Several of Berbatov's attempts had been blocked by keeper Green already, but he would not be denied this time as he curled the ball into the top left corner, leaving the goalie helpless. Tevez again threatened Tottenhams goal, but his shot flew just wide. West Ham would be left to rue their missed chances when Defoe's shot was parried by Green, but the ball was tapped in by Canadian Paul Stalteri, giving the visitors their first lead of the game, and soon earning them all 3 points. The goal came just over 5 minutes into stoppage time, and there was no chance left for West Ham to equilize.
West Ham will continue their battle to stay in the Premiership in two weeks time against Blackburn, while Tottenham is due for an UEFA cup battle against Braga.
== Sources ==
Lewis Rutledge. "Hammers Left Sick by Stalteri" — SkySports, March 4, 2007