Jermain Defoe double helps Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham Hotspur see off West Ham United
Tottenham Hotspur 3 West Ham United 1: Andre Villas-Boas will have been grateful to his old club for dominating the news agenda this week but even Chelsea cannot hog the headlines for ever and he thus greeted with relief a comprehensive victory which, for the moment at least, prevents the spotlight turning his way.
Three goals in 20 minutes either side of the break, two from Jermain Defoe, one of them brilliant, the other from Gareth Bale, secured victory long before Andy Carroll finally opened his account for West Ham. As the away fans' disenchantment grew, so did the malevolence of their chanting with the now customary anti-Semitic songs accompanied by new ones glorying in the midweek attack on Spurs fans by Lazio Ultras. It is time increasingly vile football chanting is addressed.
Four successive domestic defeats had seen Tottenham slip down the league and out of the Capital One Cup, putting pressure on Villas-Boas. Prob-able progress in the Europa League is all very well but Spurs' target is the Champions League and they began the day seven points off the qualifying places in eighth – below West Ham.
They are back above their east London rivals now, and level with Arsenal, whose 5-2 victory in last weekend's north London derby added to the questions over Villas-Boas's management. West Ham arrived in the better form but were second best throughout. As well as conceding three goals Jussi Jaaskelainen saw his crossbar rattled twice.
Villas-Boas brought in more physical, central defenders to handle Carroll, pairing Michael Dawson – likely to be the subject of a January bid from QPR, whom he nearly joined in August – with Steven Caulker. Jan Vertonghen was at left-back to replace Kyle Naughton, who was given a chasing by Theo Walcott at the Emirates, and William Gallas was left on the bench. Clint Dempsey returned in place of the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor.
West Ham were swiftly forced back by a home team attacking through their full-backs, with passes rolled in behind for Defoe and, inevitably, the direct running of Bale. The Welshman was chopped down early on by Joey O'Brien, earning the full-back a yellow card that could easily have been red. Bale was undeterred. Three minutes later he drifted inside, turned away from Mark Noble, accelerated clear of Mohamed Diame, and crashed a thunderous drive against the underside of the bar. Villas-Boas and his staff leaped up but the linesman correctly signalled that the ball had bounced back outside the goal.
Dempsey then brought a sprawling save from Jaaskelainen but West Ham pushed Diame forward to stop Tom Huddlestone and Sandro bringing the ball out and Spurs lost momentum. Indeed the best chance in the first 40 minutes came from a set-piece, Dawson failing to direct Bale's corner goalwards.
Noble was booked for curtailing a promising break by Aaron Lennon prompting an angry exchange on the sidelines between Jose Maria Rocha, Tottenham's fitness coach, and Neil McDonald, Sam Allardyce's assistant. A few minutes later Defoe, frustrated at the lack of service, left his foot in on Winston Reid. He, too, was booked, as McDonald turned on Rocha as if to say: "What about that then?"
Defoe, still the target of fierce abuse from the visiting fans eight years after leaving Upton Park, then produced a better riposte. He was near the junction of touchine and halfway line when he received on his chest a chipped pass from Kyle Walker. Defoe seemed sandwiched between Reid and George McCartney but turned sharply away from both, then drove towards goal. Defoe checked inside Noble and thrashed a 20-yard drive past Jaaske-lainen. He wheeled past the Hammers fans, but contained his celebrations until reaching the home support.
Twice Matt Jarvis – an early replacement for the ineffective Modibo Maiga – might have levelled early in the second period. First the winger failed to make decent contact when Kevin Nolan flicked on Carroll's knock-down and Hugo Lloris saved. Then Nolan, sent clear by Vertonghen's hapless attempt to play offside, put his cross too close to the alert keeper. Allardyce held his head in anguish at the latter miss, and three minutes after his worst fears were realised. McCartney failed to follow Bale inside, Dempsey, who had just hit the bar, noticed and Bale scrambled his chipped pass home.
It was all over six minutes later. Carroll was caught in possession, Dempsey fed Lennon who skipped over James Tomkins's challenge, drew Jaaskelainen and squared for Defoe to tap in. There was time for Carroll to finally mark his loan spell with a goal, heading over Lloris after an error by Caulker allowed O'Brien to cross.
"He scores when he wants," sang the away support. "He scores once a year," was the home response. Hammers fans countered with: "How s**t must you be – he scored against you". That's how to boost a centre-forward's confidence.
"Bubbles" apart, the rest of the Hammers' fans repetoire was unprintable and unrepeatable, the appeals of their Jewish co-owner David Gold, a victim of anti-Semitism as a child, being ignored. Not that West Ham supporters are by any means unique in giving voice to such obscenities.
Bookings: Tot Defoe. WH O’Brien, Noble.
Poss: Tot 59%. WH 41%.
Attempts on target: Tot 9. WH 4.
Ref C Foy (Merseyside).