Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min fired a late leveller to earn his side a draw in a rather one-sided London Derby at Wembley Stadium yesterday evening, locking together with local rivals West Ham United in a feisty affair.
David Moyes’ Irons had, out of the blue, taken the lead with their first effort on goal in the 70th minute, an unbelievable hit from around 30 yards out from Pedro Obiang, giving France International goalkeeper Hugo Lloris next to no chance.
However, they were unable to hold out in the latter stages, one of Spurs’ 31 shots finally getting through, a stunning effort in its own right from the South Korean International on 84 minutes, ensuring that both teams took home a share of the spoils.
A frustrating point keeps the Lilywhites in fifth position, they now trail Liverpool in fourth by three points, meanwhile, a valuable stalemate in the complexion of West Ham United’s season moves them above AFC Bournemouth and into 15th place, now two points from the danger of the dreaded drop zone.
From the start in West London, Lilywhites Manager Pochettino decided on three alterations in the wake of his team’s impressive Tuesday night win at the Liberty Stadium over Swansea City.
In defence, former PSG man Serge Aurier came in for England International Kieran Trippier, while Moussa Sissoko replaced Erik Lamela further forward and Harry Kane recovered from illness in time to take the place of Fernando Llorente up-front.
Meanwhile, Hammers Boss Moyes also made three changes after his side claimed a vital three points at home to fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion three days ago at the London Stadium.
The injured pairing of Aaron Cresswell and Marko Arnautovic saw their positions in the starting Xl taken up by Irish youngster Declan Rice and Skipper Mark Noble as Javier Hernandez made his first PL start under the Scotsman and match-winner last time out Andy Carroll dropped to the bench.
Right from the very off at the National Stadium, the home side were purely dominant, giving the visitors’ back five and their keeper Adrian San-Miguel for that matter, the ultimate challenge of keeping them out in the first-half.
The first real sight at goal they had arrived on just three minutes when eventual Man of the Match Rice made an excellent block to deny Harry Kane, the England man would soon test out Adrian.
But, the Spaniard was up to the task of keeping out his curling effort, what he couldn’t do, however, was catch a Winston Reid header that had looped up from a home corner, instead grasping the head of Cheikhou Kouyate and making for a humorous snap, though Eric Dier’s follow-up was blocked well.
Pochettino’s men then thought they had a goal when Kane forced Reid to turn into his own net, the flag of linesman Simon Long saving his blushes, Adrian was forced into yet another stop when Son fired low through a ruck of bodies.
That was soon followed by an even better save from the former Real Betis man, a high tip over the bar from a deflected Cristian Eriksen, post-Kane being slipped in by a deft Aurier header and surprisingly, not quite being able to bring the ball under control.
The away side, who occasionally looked a threat on the break in the first-half, had somehow made it to half-time with the scores level at 0-0, some more admirable defending was needed in the final 45 by their back five.
After a series of half-chances that were swiftly snuffed out in the opening exchanges, the hosts had a major penalty appeal turned down and spurned a big opportunity in the same move.
A ball in from Aurier on the right wing caused havoc, with the ball eventually falling the way of Kane, his effort being heroically blocked by Pablo Zabaleta, a last-ditch challenge.
As a result, the ball sat up for Dele Alli to head and he went down under heavy contact from Adrian having nodded over, Mike Dean waving away appeals, not for the first time on the evening.
The Lilywhites’ lack of cutting edge in front of goal would be duly punished by an improbable thunderbolt from a very unlikely source, which left most of Wembley Stadium shell-shocked.
Receiving a short pass from Manuel Lanzini, the former Sampdoria star Obiang drove at the box left of centre, smashing the ball into the near top corner via the helpless palm of Lloris to the delight of the travelling Claret & Blue Army.
Many’s Goal of the Season encouraged the East Londoners in attack and they should have probably put the game beyond Spurs a short while later as Kouyate failed to get clean contact on a superb Arthur Masuaku delivery, a wonderful chance.
The inevitable would duly happen with under ten minutes remaining in the west of the Capital and it was a case of anything you can do I can do better from Son.
A strong and dubious tackle by Davinson Sanchez on Lanzini set Pochettino’s men away on the counter, the Korea man being set up nicely for a thunderous strike that bulged the net past Adrian and ultimately gave his team a draw.
Action ensued at both ends in the closing stages, a late goalmouth scramble came to nothing after offering the North Londoners a chance to claim all three points.
While Masuaku’s skill and pass to substitute Andre Ayew could have easily seen the maximum points make the 23-mile trip back to Stratford, it didn’t as Lloris pulled off a strong save and even Stevens it would be in a racy encounter that saved most of its action to the very last knockings.
A frustrated Tottenham will now hope to put the evening behind them as their focus switches to the FA Cup and a home Third Round clash with another London opponent, AFC Wimbledon at the National Stadium.
Meanwhile, the Irons next few days will follow a similar pattern as they turn all attention to a trip to face off with League Two Shrewsbury Town away from home in Football’s oldest Competition.