Antonio hurts Spurs again

West Ham's Michail Antonio scoring the first goal by a visiting player at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in their 1-0 win yesterday.
West Ham's Michail Antonio scoring the first goal by a visiting player at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in their 1-0 win yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Hammers striker nets only goal against tired Tottenham at new home; dents top-four chase

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LONDON • Michail Antonio has been a familiar foe for Tottenham.

Back in the 2015-16 season, when Spurs were pushing for the Premier League title, it was Antonio who derailed them with the only goal of a 1-0 West Ham win at Upton Park.

Yesterday, the forward struck the first goal by a visiting player to Spurs' new stadium and it was one that stood to damage their hopes of a top-four finish.

Antonio's reward was no more than what West Ham deserved and the 1-0 win served to end the side's woeful recent away run - they had arrived on the back of one point from an available 24.

Spurs could have been forgiven for having one eye on Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first-leg against Ajax but it was alarming to see how flat and laboured they were in the second half.

They looked out on their feet in the closing stages, when West Ham could easily have added to their 67th-minute lead, and Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino admitted afterwards that his team were suffering from fatigue.

"We were tired. We knew that it was going to be tough because it was a derby," he said.

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"We knew that to compete in the Premier League top four is very tough. First half we deserved it, second half they deserved it.

"Second half they were better. They had more energy than us and we conceded a lot of space for them to run into. We didn't find a way to manage the ball properly.

"But the effort my players are doing is amazing. I still feel proud of them. Sometimes we need to admit it's tough, we didn't score and now we have to move on."

Spurs had won all four matches at their new £1 billion (S$1.76 billion) stadium, and have yet to concede a goal before yesterday. But it was finally the day when their perfect record ended.

More significantly, the loss put a dent in their Champions League qualification hopes.

Tottenham now hold a slim three-point lead over fourth-placed Chelsea (67) and are four points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, with both teams in action today.

Manchester United, further back in sixth and six points behind Spurs, host Chelsea as all three teams know they must now take advantage of Spurs' slip.

Pochettino had insisted Tottenham's first European semi-final since the 1984 Uefa Cup was less significant than their top-four challenge. But his team selection told a different story.

The Argentinian rested Kieran Trippier, Victor Wanyama and Fernando Llorente, but his gamble backfired.

Spurs dominated the first half and could have been ahead had Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen converted their chances.

They were then made to pay as West Ham took the lead after half-time when Antonio lashed past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following a cross from Marko Arnautovic.

"For us to come here and get the first win is a great achievement," said a beaming Antonio, who did not know that he was the first away player to score at the new stadium.

"I wasn't aware but that's another little mark in history, and I love it."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 28, 2019, with the headline 'Antonio hurts Spurs again'. Print Edition | Subscribe