Tottenham 0 West Ham 1: Antonio strikes as Spurs slip in top-four race

by Patric Ridge

Tottenham slipped up in the race for Champions League qualification as they succumbed to a 1-0 Premier League defeat to West Ham.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side relied on Christian Eriksen’s 88th-minute stunner to secure the points against Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday, and a sluggish display this time around was punished when Michail Antonio hammered home in the 67th minute – marking the first time Tottenham have conceded at their new home.

The hosts – who have a Champions League semi-final first-leg tie with Ajax next up on Tuesday – had their chances with Son Heung-min particularly wasteful and Vincent Janssen denied on the line late on, while Lukasz Fabianski was typically impressive in West Ham’s goal.

And their lacklustre showing was made worse as Antonio slammed in from close range to inflict a first defeat on Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and keep the top-four race wide open.

Son should have done better when played through by Dele Alli in the 11th minute but the South Korea forward failed to generate enough power to beat Fabianski.

Felipe Anderson demonstrated similar profligacy soon after, drilling straight at Hugo Lloris after driving clear down the left, while a crisp Lucas Moura strike flashed wide at the other end.

Reckless play from Issa Diop might have proved costly for West Ham if not for Fabianski’s fine save from Eriksen’s snapshot – before Felipe Anderson’s deflected strike almost caught Lloris flat footed.

Marko Arnautovic was the next to test Lloris as West Ham grew in confidence after the restart, though Tottenham wanted a penalty when Son went down under pressure from Arthur Masuaku after failing to get a shot off.

West Ham’s resilience was rewarded soon after, Antonio expertly controlling Arnautovic’s cross before sending a rasping strike past Lloris.

But with Antonio and Diop both squandering chances to make sure of the win, Fabian Balbuena came to West Ham’s rescue with a goal-line clearance to deny substitute Janssen an equaliser.

What does it mean? Spurs stutter ahead of Ajax

Given Ajax’s rampant form, Pochettino will have hoped for a much more convincing display from his side ahead of Tuesday’s encounter.

But while their current Champions League campaign is no doubt a priority, Tottenham’s defeat has opened the door for Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United – the latter two meeting on Sunday – to take advantage.

In-form Antonio makes no mistake

Having scored with a fantastic header against Leicester City last time out, Antonio etched his name into the record books when he took down Arnautovic’s cross before giving Lloris little chance with a powerful finish, and would have got a second late on if not for an instinctive stop from Tottenham’s goalkeeper.

Son feeling the strain?

Tottenham’s forward is a remarkably consistent performer, but there were signs on Saturday that he was not quite at his sharpest. Son will miss Tuesday’s clash with Ajax through suspension, and while Pochettino will loathe to be shorn of one of his star players, the enforced rest may well do the South Korea international some good.

What’s next?

Tottenham’s focus will switch to their first ever Champions League semi-final, when Ajax visit north London. West Ham face Southampton in their penultimate game of the season next Saturday.