Tottenham 2-0 West Ham: Heung-min Son helps send Spurs into top four with London derby win
Son Heung-min responded to being dropped with a goal to help Tottenham beat West Ham 2-0 and move back into the Premier League top four.
Son’s poor form this season saw him left out of the starting line-up for only a second time when fit but he found the net four minutes after his introduction to add to Emerson Royal’s classy 56th-minute opener.
It helped Spurs take advantage of Newcastle’s slip-up against Liverpool by moving above the Magpies into fourth to aid the recovery of manager Antonio Conte, who remains in Italy after gallbladder surgery.
Defeat for West Ham ended their three-match unbeaten run in the division and ensured they stay in the bottom three.
Results over the weekend increased the importance of this fixture and West Ham started like a side eager to move immediately out of the relegation zone after wins for Bournemouth and Everton saw them drop to 18th.
The visitors forced two corners during the opening exchanges after Jarrod Bowen fired wide inside 60 seconds.
It had also been an action-packed start for Spurs midfielder Oliver Skipp as he was booked just minutes after his volley was deflected over by Tomas Soucek.
The notable pre-match news was Son being dropped for only the second time this season and his replacement, Richarlison, thought he had won Tottenham a penalty in the 12th minute.
Thilo Kehrer handled under pressure from Richarlison, but those appeals were waved away by referee Michael Oliver and VAR.
While Tottenham started to gain a foothold on proceedings midway through the half, their final ball lacked quality and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s weak 25-yard effort was all they had to show before Harry Kane and Richarlison combined before the interval.
Kane dropped deep and played a ball over the top to his fellow forward but Lukasz Fabianski was able to deny Richarlison’s low effort with his feet to keep it 0-0 at half-time.
Spurs remained on the front foot and both Richarlison and Kane should have done better with early second-half chances, the latter sending an effort horribly wide after Dejan Kulusevski’s pass.
Tottenham’s attacking trio were beginning to warm up but when the breakthrough arrived with 56 minutes played they were not involved.
Hojbjerg unlocked the rigid West Ham back-five with a sublime through ball for Ben Davies, who cut inside and teed up fellow wing-back Emerson to slot home from 14 yards.
Emerson had been booed in last month’s defeat to Aston Villa but continued his resurgence with a second goal in five league games.
West Ham could have levelled immediately when Michail Antonio flicked through to Bowen but Fraser Forster saved well before Kulusevski tested the palms of Fabianski down the other end.
Spurs assistant Cristian Stellini introduced Son with 22 minutes left and he needed just four minutes to make his mark.
Kane played into the path of Son, who took the ball in his stride and slotted beyond Fabianski to score for the eighth time against West Ham.
Like during the Leicester game in September, the South Korean and last season’s joint-Premier League golden boot winner responded to being dropped with a goal for his ninth effort of a difficult campaign.
Despite two dangerous Said Benrahma efforts, Tottenham held on to end a poor week where they lost at Leicester and AC Milan in addition to boss Conte being consigned to a period of rest on a high.