*Article originally written October 18, 2020Embed from Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 3 West Ham United: Lanzini Rocket Earns Dramatic Derby Draw
“Lads, it’s Tottenham.”
We’ll never know if David Moyes drew inspiration from Sir Alex Ferguson, but whatever he said to his West Ham team at half-time, it worked. The Red Devils connection continues; it was of course Jose Mourinho who sunk to his knees as he watched his Spurs side squander a three-goal lead in the final 10 minutes. This was the final act in a bonkers 3-3 draw, a spectacle that reminded us of the Premier League’s admirable unpredictability.
‘You can’t write this’, would’ve been one of the comments as millions watched the Hammers’ late comeback from their homes. However, this script would have been written – in the head of the show’s protagonist, Manuel Lanzini.
He entered the stage as a 77th minute substitute, before a non-existent live audience, with his team needing a miracle. He delivered. The Argentine will speak of his goal for years to come, a 94th minute, 30-yard rocket off the woodwork to secure an unlikely away London derby draw.
But this shouldn’t have been Lanzini’s day. Much of the pre-match talk focused on the return of Tottenham’s beloved son. After seven years and four Champions League wins at Real Madrid, Gareth Bale was home, and following the first half’s events, the perfect storyline was very much alive.
Harry Kane’s exquisite through ball, from inside his own half, to assist Heung Min Son’s curled finish inside 45 seconds would’ve set West Ham alarm bells ringing. The league’s most exciting double-act looked on fire, and when they combined again before the 10-minute mark, Moyes’ boys would’ve feared a thumping.
The South Korean superstar returned the favour this time, a short pass to England’s captain and he did the rest, nutmegging international teammate Declan Rice before firing past a stranded Lukasz Fabianski into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Tottenham knocked Manchester United for six before the international break, and after a blistering start, the hosts looked set to inflict similar embarrassment on a West Ham team that appeared to still be on holiday.
Kane caused carnage between the lines, floating into spaces and creating from deeper positions in Spurs’ fluid 4-3-3 formation. He also continued to display his prowess in front of goal, making it 3-0 after 16 minutes, this time nodding Sergio Reguilón’s floated cross into the far corner – a complete striker if there ever was one.
The visitors went in shellshocked at the break, 3-0 down and few chances of their own to report. Aaron Cresswell had whipped a free-kick into the side netting early-on, and the visitors posed some threat late in the half, but Vladimir Coufal’s effort was blocked.
Kane made the block, in his own area. This felt like a Mourinho team at its very best, typified by the defensive efforts of his talisman. Mourinho’s first fixture as Tottenham manager was a 3-2 win against West Ham, a game in which Son and Kane both scored, establishing a three-goal lead before a late West Ham surge threatened a comeback.
That fixture served as a warning, making Jose aware of the challenge he faced – eradicating a mentality that has made this team so susceptible to conceding late goals. A mentality that has birthed ‘Spursy’ into the football dictionary and led to dropped points in the 97th minute against Newcastle already this season.
Nothing could prepare for what unfolded in the second half. Taking nothing away from West Ham, if the first 45 minutes showed why Tottenham could be genuine title contenders this season, their display after half-time proved the opposite.
West Ham set the tone, starting the second-half much better than they had the first, and they should’ve had one back on 50 minutes. Michail Antonio’s effort took a deflection, leaving Pablo Fornals with an open-goal at the far post, but the Spaniard’s header went well over.
The time for Bale’s second debut arrived with just over 15 minutes to go as he jogged on to take a free-kick in ‘his territory’. It looked like destiny, the Welsh wizard’s first touch back in a Spurs shirt would surely be arrowed into the top corner, stealing the headlines and completing a comfortable victory. Instead, his tame attempt was comfortably saved.
Andriy Yarmolenko and Lanzini were introduced on 77 minutes, and shortly after the post denied Kane a hat-trick with 10 minutes remaining, the madness began. Cresswell swung in a free-kick from the left and Fabián Balbuena rose highest to head home at the back post, scoring what looked like to be a deserved consolation at that stage.
The spirited Hammers were not content there. Good work from Yarmolenko on the right played through Coufal, and the defender’s cross from inside the box was headed by Davinson Sánchez into his own net. A desperate dive at the ball which symbolised Tottenham’s slipping grip on the game, defending more frantically with each passing minute. 3-2 with six minutes to go.
A valiant effort from the away side, but when a Tottenham counter saw Bale tiptoe into the West Ham area in injury time, the fairytale story beckoned again. On another occasion he may have ambled for the corner flag to see out the win. Not today. He drove at goal, beating two players, but skewed his shot wide from 10 yards out, giving West Ham one more chance. They drove forwards, winning a free-kick wide on the left flank in the 94th minute.
Tottenham failed to clear Cresswell’s delivery again, and Lanzini latched onto fellow substitute Harry Winks’ heavy touch, unleashing a thunderbolt from distance to equalise off the woodwork. Cutting across the ball with the precision of an Argentine steak knife, an outrageous strike that led to jubilant celebrations.
This was not the storyline many expected, but after refusing to lie down, it was no less than West Ham deserved. Today was not about Son, Kane, or Bale. This game belonged to Manuel Lanzini and West Ham, a team with a never-say-die attitude trending upwards under David Moyes.