West Ham relegation fears grow after defeat at Spurs
West Ham United’s hopes of avoiding relegation suffered a cruel blow as an own goal by midfielder Tomas Soucek and Harry Kane’s first goal since December condemned them to a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday.
The visitors were fortunate just before halftime when VAR ruled out Son Heung-min’s goal for offside, but their luck deserted them after the break at an empty Tottenham Stadium.
When a corner was swung over in the 64th minute the ball appeared to brush the arm of Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez before bouncing off Soucek’s leg and spinning past helpless keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
West Ham responded well and Jarrod Bowen was denied an equaliser by the upright before Kane was played through on goal by Son’s pass and beat Fabianski with a trademark finish.
Defeat left West Ham above the relegation zone on goal difference from Bournemouth who have a game in hand.
West Ham manager David Moyes said his side were better than in the 2-0 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend and was convinced Tottenham’s opening goal should have been ruled out.
“I’ve only just seen it, and I can’t believe they’ve ruled that as a goal. Any handball is disallowed? That’s the rule. Who is on VAR tonight? Not very good eh?,” he told Sky Sports.
Tottenham’s first win in eight matches in all competitions kept them in the hunt for a Champions League qualification berth. Jose Mourinho’s side are seventh with 45 points, one behind fifth-placed Manchester United.
Mourinho’s first game in charge after taking over from Mauricio Pochettino was a 3-2 away win at West Ham in November.
The atmosphere that day was in marked contrast to Tuesday’s behind-closed-doors return, although the stakes were massive for both clubs for different reasons.
No wins in four Premier League games had seen Tottenham overtaken in the battle to qualify for the Champions League while four defeats in five Premier League games had left West Ham in serious danger of relegation.
Yet the first half of what is usually a feisty derby was devoid of goalmouth incident until just before halftime when Son cut in and arrowed a low shot past Fabianski, but had strayed marginally offside when receiving the ball.
Lucas Moura, who had earlier forced Fabianski to palm over his long-range piledriver, then wasted a great chance, firing well wide after being picked out by Ben Davies.
Heartened, West Ham started the second half well and Pablo Fornals wasted their best chance early, scuffing wide when unmarked in front of goal.
It proved a decisive moment as Soucek’s blunder sent West Ham on the way to a seventh successive away Premier League defeat for the first time since 2006.
Schmeichel spares lacklustre Leicester's blushes in draw with Brighton
Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel’s first-half penalty save denied Brighton & Hove Albion a second win on the trot as the two teams played out an insipid 0-0 draw in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Visitors Brighton, who beat Arsenal on Saturday, had the opportunity to take the lead after James Justin fouled Aaron Connolly in the box but Schmeichel guessed correctly and dived smartly to his right to deny Neal Maupay from the penalty spot.
Graham Potter named Brighton’s youngest ever starting lineup in a Premier League game and managed to restrict Leicester to just two shots on target despite the home side dominating possession.
“We had to battle, I thought in the first half we were really good, carried a threat and reduced a good side to not too much,” Potter told BBC.
“We defended as a team but I’m proud of the performance, endeavour and work rate to keep a clean sheet.”
Leicester, who are targeting a return to the Champions League, are yet to claim all three points since the league’s restart last week having been held to a 1-1 draw at Watford over the weekend.
In a game bereft of clear goal scoring chances, defender Caglar Soyuncu nearly gave Leicester the lead in first half stoppage time but saw his header at the far post drift inches wide.
Leicester appealed for a penalty when a cross in second-half stoppage time hit Lewis Dunk’s flailing arm but referee Lee Mason waved it away, a decision upheld by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
“I don’t think we were very good in the first half. We got into some good positions but didn’t have enough movement in front of the ball,” Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers told Sky Sports.
“It felt like it was coming but we didn’t quite make the final pass. Clean sheet, and for fitness it was really good. We’ll take a point... We certainly don’t have a rhythm yet but we have an outstanding mentality.”
The result was 15th-placed Brighton’s fourth consecutive away draw and pushed them six points clear of the relegation zone while Leicester remain in third place, four points clear of Chelsea in fourth.