Michail Antonio and West Ham send Spurs to first defeat at new stadium

Michail Antonio scored the only goal as West Ham inflicted the first defeat on Tottenham at their new stadium which may affect morale before their Champions League semi-final with Ajax

Michail Antonio has previous against Tottenham. Back in the 2015-16 season, when Spurs were pushing for the Premier League title, it was Antonio who helped to derail them with the only goal of a 1-0 West Ham win at Upton Park. On this occasion the forward struck the first goal by a visiting player to Spurs’ new stadium and it was one that stands to damage the home club’s hopes of a top-four finish.

Antonio’s reward was no more than West Ham deserved for a fluent second-half display and it served to end their woeful recent away run. They had arrived on the back of one point from an available 24. Manuel Pellegrini described it as the “complete performance” and nobody could argue. West Ham were compact and committed en route to a rare clean sheet while Mark Noble was excellent and Felipe Anderson threatening.

Spurs could have been forgiven for having one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final, first-leg against Ajax and 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 and West Ham could easily have added to their lead. Marko Arnautovic was denied by Hugo Lloris, the impressive Issa Diop strode through only to be thwarted by the goalkeeper and Antonio was twice put off at the last.

Mauricio Pochettino finished with the substitutes Fernando Llorente and Vincent Janssen on as an unlikely strike partnership and the latter went close in stoppage time; Fabián Balbuena cleared his header from in front of the line. But this was the day when Spurs’ perfect record at their new home ended. Finally, after 427 minutes, they conceded but it was a first defeat in five matches in all competitions that represented the pain.

Pochettino was determined to blot out all thought of Ajax and he went with a strong line-up, although he left Kieran Trippier on the bench and rested Jan Vertonghen entirely. Vertonghen was feeling a bit of fatigue, which is plainly a problem for several Spurs players. It also felt significant that Pochettino withdrew Danny Rose, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura.

Michail Antonio finishes emphatically for what proved to be the winning goal in the 67th minute.
Michail Antonio finishes emphatically for what proved to be the winning goal in the 67th minute. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

Spurs hogged the ball and they had chances in the first half, with Alli laying on the best of them for Son Heung-min. The forward had only Lukasz Fabianski to beat up the inside-left channel but the goalkeeper got his angles right and blocked.

Son got away with a stamp on Robert Snodgrass, Alli avoided censure after a swan-dive on the edge of the West Ham box and Spurs were frustrated by Diop. The centre-half blocked off Alli and Son (twice), although he was robbed by the latter on 36 minutes. The ball broke to Christian Eriksen but Fabianski, once again, was out smartly to save. Lucas flashed a low drive past the far post.

Anderson is a lovely player to watch when he is on his game, as he was here, and he ran on to Snodgrass’s 20th-minute pass only for Lloris to deny him. The goalkeeper kept out another effort from him just before half-time, after it had deflected. West Ham were keen to test out the makeshift Spurs right-back, Juan Foyth, and they made inroads, at times, up his flank.

Race for third and fourth

Pochettino sent his players out early for the second half, which appeared to reflect his desire for greater urgency. But if they struggled to create clearcut chances in the first half, they hit the wall after the break – both mentally and physically.

West Ham fought hard in the one-on-ones and, with Arnautovic waking up after the interval, they came to realise that Spurs were there for the taking. Arnautovic, who later departed with a slight muscular problem, signalled his arrival with a magnificent touch on a high ball, killing it with the outside of his boot and spinning away from his man in one movement, and it was he who laid on the goal.

Arnautovic’s cross was pitched beautifully over Toby Alderweireld’s head into the stride of Antonio, who took a touch on his chest to get away from Davinson Sánchez before blasting into the far corner. Sánchez did not react quickly enough to the danger but it was an excellent finish from Antonio, who celebrated with some crazy dance moves.

“I’ve been busting those out in a couple of clubs so it was time to bring it out on the pitch,” Antonio said. “It lets me show my personality.” It was a day when Spurs failed to show theirs.

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David Hytner at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

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