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Plucky Spurs indebted to ‘keeper Lloris


TOTTENHAM GOT the job done on an afternoon when Mauricio Pochettino’s men were some way short of their best and still missing key personnel.

The absences of Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli through injury, with the likes of Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele being only fit enough to start on the bench, matter less when victories are claimed in this hard-fought fashion.

A glancing header from Erik Lamela late in the first half proved to be the difference in a match that was as frenetic as you would expect, but with little attacking quality.

Spurs can now turn their attention to Wednesday’s meeting with PSV Eindhoven safe in the knowledge they remain in touch with the leaders at the top of the Premier League.

Lamela’s goal made it two consecutive defeats for West Ham either side of the international break. The locals always find it galling to lose to these opponents but there was enough in their general play to offer Manuel Pellegrini encouragement as West Ham look to move clear of the relegation zone.

The game’s defining moment came as the first half appeared to be drifting to a goalless conclusion. There was a minute of normal time remaining when Kieran Trippier dinked the ball into the path of Moussa Sissoko on the right hand side as Spurs advanced.

The Frenchman shaped to cross, sending Felipe Anderson the wrong way in the process, before finally wafting in a cross on his weaker left foot. The ball evaded all in a crowded penalty area before Lamela applied the finishing touch. That is now seven goals and three assists for the Argentine in his last nine games.

It was another kick in the teeth for West Ham, who just four minutes earlier lost Andriy Yarmolenko to a potentially serious ankle injury.

Pellegrini’s side, suddenly deflated, had defended with calm and assurance to that point. It would return and there is now a defensive solidity to a team that had been leaking goals left, right and centre during the early stages of the season.

In this regard it helped that West Ham faced opponents limited in their attacking scope, with Alli absent and Eriksen and Heung-min Son starting on the Spurs bench. Harry Kane was forced to continually drop deep and his teammates struggled to find him in dangerous areas.

If anything, the England captain’s most significant contribution was standing stock still to allow Sissoko’s cross to float its way into Lamela’s path.

There was still plenty of fight in West Ham as they chased the equaliser after the interval. Hugo Lloris was called into action on several occasions, with fine saves from Marko Arnautovic, twice, and substitute Michail Antonio sticking in the mind.

Pochettino’s first change saw the goalscorer Lamela hooked for Dembele as Spurs looked to hold on to what they had.

Substitute Javier Hernandez did put the ball in the Tottenham net late on but the assistant referee’s flag had already been correctly raised for an infringement by Arnautovic.

That was just about that, and Spurs made it five wins from six on the road in the league.

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