How Nervy Mourinho escaped the derby with three points

2019-11-23 19:00

José Mourinho walked off the pitch victorious on Saturday, 342 days after his last game as manager. Muhammad Hussain was at London Stadium. This is how it all went down.

It was a nervous and subdued José Mourinho who came to London Stadium on Saturday afternoon, where Tottenham Hotspur beat West Ham United three goals to two.

Mourinho’s first game after a hiatus of sorts was anything but boring, with five goals, a video assistant referee (VAR) decision and a bit of an argy-bargy.

Son Heung-min opened the scoring in the 36th minute after an assist off Dele Alli on the left flank, which Spurs targeted heavily through the first half.

Son cut past Issa Diop, who had received a yellow card earlier on, and lashed home to open Mourinho’s account at Spurs.

The Hammers looked all sorts of lost in defence, with Declan Rice tracking back to help out, while Diop and fellow defender Ryan Fredericks were all over the show.

Soon the Irons found themselves two goals down. They couldn’t recover and set the their lines straight as Alli and Son again took the left flank by storm, with the latter crossing in low and Lucas Moura helping it over the line.

West Ham’s second-choice goalkeeper Roberto Jiménez continued his terrible run of form and didn’t look confident in anything he did. This was reflected when the frustrated home fans ironically cheered him as he picked up a relatively easy rolling ball.

Son and Alli were relentless on the left and kept beating the defence lines, with Son being allowed too much space on the wing.

There was not much to write home about from a West Ham perspective in the first half, as each time they came close to any attacking move, it was either snuffed out by a much more organised Spurs defence or they lost the ball to silly first touches.

Manuel Pellegrini was barely vocal and didn’t come to the touchline as often as his counterpart, preferring to mill around the home team’s substitution bench.

In the second half, West Ham player of the match Michail Antonio came in for Felipe Anderson as Pellegrini tried to inject some attacking power into his side.

Antonio, who had been out of play for almost three months owing to injury, looked miles ahead of his team-mates, and kept winning balls in the right areas and finding space among a tightly held Spurs defence.

But this did not stop Mourinho’s captain Harry Kane from powering home a header four minutes into the second half.

With a big hug for both and a wave to the appreciative Spurs fans, Mourinho walked off the pitch victorious, 342 days after his last game as manager.

That header somehow gave the West Ham players the va-va-voom they needed, and they started pushing in close a lot more.

On the touchline, Mourinhou prowled up and down, whispering to players, shouting orders, getting down on his haunches, clapping vigorously and looking more like the Mourinhou we know.

After continuous counteracts and a relentless attacking approach, Spurs slowed down, further encouraging West Ham to keep attacking, with Antonio leading the charge.

They were eventually rewarded in the 73rd minute after the substitute poked home a ball that was playing ping-pong with the Spurs defence.

This was Antonio’s fourth league goal against Spurs and it came at a fourth different stadium.

Spurs tried in vain to regain their first-half momentum, but the iron resolve of the Hammers showed as the Lilywhites found themselves on the back foot, resorting to game management to try to break up the play.

Just before the end, a VAR decision disallowed Rice’s goal after another ping-pong in the box.

With six minutes added to the game, West Ham kept pressing and Mourinho became a lot more agitated, pacing up and down the touchline and barking orders at whomever would listen. His counterpart, meanwhile, preferred to fold his hands and look sullen.

As the six minutes wound down, Angelo Ogbonna got another in the net for West Ham, cutting it a little close as the game ended moments after the restart.

Spurs now sit ninth on the table, while West Ham languish in 16th position.

As the full-time whistle blew, a relieved Mourinho greeted everyone, including Antonio, waiting right until the end for his players to walk off the pitch after Son and Alli gave their shirts to the away fans. With a big hug for both and a wave to the appreciative Spurs fans, Mourinho walked off the pitch victorious, 342 days after his last game as manager.

Pellegrini, on the other hand ... well, a season ticket-holder of West Ham put it best: “That terrible smell, it’s the burning of his contract.”

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December 8 2019