Spectacular Hammers Comeback Saves Defiant Bilic
An incredible second-half fightback from an inspired West Ham United side defeated a flabbergasted Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium last night, to progress into The Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals for the second consecutive season.
The hosts had looked unstoppable in a one-sided first period, cruising into the lead with goals from Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli, leaving Slaven Bilic in all kinds of bother at the break.
But, his brave team showed exactly the kind of reaction that was needed, when it was needed, with three goals in 15 minutes, to ensure Mauricio Pochettino was left red-faced, having squandered a first two-goal lead as Spurs Boss.
Heading into the fierce London Derby, The Argentine had made as many as seven changes from Sunday’s 4-0 besting of Liverpool, but his line-up still looked strong.
Michel Vorm, Juan Foyth, Ben Davies, Moussa Sissoko, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Fernando Llorente replaced Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Davidson Sanchez, Christian Eriksen, Harry Winks, Serge Aurier and star striker Harry Kane for the hosts.
Meanwhile, surprisingly, Bilic opted for nine changes to the side that were embarrassed 0-3 at home to Brighton & Hove Albion last Friday, in goal, Adrian came in for Joe Hart.
In defence, Angelo Ogbonna and Declan Rice replaced Winston Reid and Joe Fonte, on the wings Sam Byram and Aaron Cresswell replaced Pablo Zabaleta and Arthur Masuaku, whilst skipper Mark Noble and Edimilson Fernandes took the places of Pedro Obiang and Marko Arnautovic.
There would be two further alterations in attack for the Croat, as Andre Ayew and Andy Carroll came in for Michail Antonio and Javier Hernandez, but things wouldn’t go to plan early on.
After just six minutes under the lights at Wembley, Tottenham raced away with a trademark counter-attack that cut our defence in half, as Son Heung-Min found Sissoko to easily convert past Adrian from a one-on-one situation.
A period of dominance would follow for Pochettino’s men before they doubled their advantage 37 minutes when Alli’s effort deflected off the head of Irish youngster Declan Rice and beyond Adrian into the bottom corner.
As Referee Mike Dean blew his half-time whistle, a familiar chorus of boos rang out from the close to 5,000 members of The Claret & Blue Army that had made the trip across London, but their disgruntlement would be short-lived.
Whatever Bilic said to his players in the short 15-minute window that is the break, it had worked to some effect and Wembley was about to be stunned by a miraculous comeback.
Despite making no changes at the break, an entirely different away Xl came out for the second period, with the reward of a lifeline being awarded just ten minutes into it.
A Manuel Lanzini corner had been scrambled away by Spurs, but not far enough away as Edi Fernandes was able to strike at goal with Vorm’s save falling to the feet of Ayew, who was quickest to react and pull one back.
A matter of moments later, after coming close with a header from close-range the Ghanaian would be pulling away in celebration once more, but in far prettier circumstances this time.
Andy Carroll’s superb knock-down from an Ogbonna eventually found its way to Lanzini, as his clever flick fell into the path of Ayew, who finished well into the top corner under pressure.
But, with the scores now level, we weren’t finished there. Lanzini, again the prover on a superb night for him, delivered a 70th-minute corner that landed perfectly on the head of Ogbonna, leaving the Italian to glance beautifully into the far corner.
It would be a nervy final 20 minute, but a successful one for a scrutinized Claret & Blue defence, as Spurs were unable to prevent their first defeat in 11 games in all Competitions.
Furthermore, a sweet Derby victory eases huge pressure off the shoulders of Bilic, who had been reportedly given two games to save his job, last night’s victory going a long way to doing that very thing.
Whereas, the tricky games keep coming thick and fast for The Lilywhites as they will look for redemption on Saturday lunchtime against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Whereas, our Hammers will have a few days to bask in the glory of triumph before another vital clash at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace on the same day, meanwhile finding out our Carabao Cup last eight opponents this afternoon at 4 PM GMT.