SAN FRANCISCO, October 18, (THEWILL) – In a thrilling evening of English Premier League (EPL) London derby action on Sunday, Manuel Lanzini’s last-gasp stunner sealed a remarkable fightback from West Ham to earn a 3-3 draw against their North London-based rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Having only recovered from previously testing positive for coronavirus and back in the dugout for the first time since late September, West Ham boss David Moyes would have hoped to see his team build on two convincing EPL wins earned in his absence.
Rather, reality came hard and fast. The Hammers conceded in just 45 seconds as red-hot Harry Kane dropped into midfield before clipping a long ball over the top for his South Korean strike partner Son Heung-min, who cut inside Fabian Balbuena, the Paraguayan centre back, with ease to dispatch a low shot into the far corner.
Things went from bad to worse shortly after, when Kane nutmegged Declan Rice at the edge of the box before sending a shot through the legs of centre back Angelo Ogbonna and beyond a helpless Lukasz Fabianski in goal for West Ham.
And, while the visitors had a couple of promising play in the aftermath of that pair of goals through the particularly industrious Michail Antonio, they simply could not do enough to keep Spurs at bay at the other end.
Consequently, they were three goals down after just 16 minutes. Kane claimed his brace with a powerful header from Sergio Reguilon’s cross to the back post.
However, to their credit, West Ham attempted to produce a positive response to an opening quarter of an hour that had all but ended their hopes of taking anything from the game. They only ended up blowing away potential openings they worked, not least when Spanish left midfielder Pablo Fornals somehow contrived to head a deflected Antonio cross over from close range shortly after the restart.
Meanwhile, Spurs continued to look dangerous on the counter. They were understandably happy to simply sit on their lead and to manage the opposition threat. They relied on counter-attacks as their main source of chance-creation in the second period.
One such pacy break almost led to Kane recording his hat-trick. The England striker’s fine left-footed effort from distance clattered the post 10 minutes from time.
Spurs then brought on loanee Gareth Bale but his return debut did not end how he would have hoped. There proved to be an unexpected sting in the tail for the hosts.
In the 82nd-minute, Balbuena headed in from a dangerous free-kick delivery from the left wing to close the scoreline a bit. That was quickly followed by a Davinson Sanchez own goal, the Colombian defender inadvertently heading Vladimir Coufal’s cross beyond Hugo Lloris in the Spurs net.
And, after Bale has missed a glorious opportunity to close the game off, Lanzini completed the comeback in the dying moments of injury time when he smashed a marvellous long-range effort beyond a despairing Lloris to make it 3-3.
After surrendering this three-goal lead to their local rivals, Mourinho’s men are sure to once again come in for harsh scrutiny as it was when the season began before things began to look up prior to the international break.
Nothing must be taken from what was a stunning comeback from the visitors, though, underlined by the fact that it was only the third time in Premier League history that a side has avoided defeat despite trailling by three or more goals going into the 80th minute.
West Brom managed it in a crazy 5-5 draw with Manchester United in 2013, with Norwich City having also done so in a 4-4 draw with Middlesbrough in 2004.
The on-form Kane set a new Premier League record too. His assist and two goals bringing his tally to 12 goal involvements this season.
No player has ever managed as many in their opening five games of a campaign in the Premier League era, with the previous best of 11 set by Thierry Henry for Arsenal in 2004-05.
THEWILL concludes that Spurs will have to recover quickly from this setback as they begin their UEFA Europa League campaign against LASK on Thursday. Next for West Ham is a daunting clash with Manchester City next weekend. With this result, THEWILL believes they will go into the tie brimming with confidence and self belief.