Kurt Zouma’s extraordinary finishing touch helps West Ham peg back Spurs

<span>The ball is off <a rang=Kurt Zouma back to West Ham equalizer against Tottenham.Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/SjB.LUrGkCRk_2oOr0I14g–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/c4183fd22df0c43ea8dea84ef74ef5d6″ data- src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/SjB.LUrGkCRk_2oOr0I14g–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/c4183fd22df0c43ea8dea84ef74ef5d6″/>

Little wonder Tottenham saw most of the ball. West Ham are built to absorb pressure and the longer this game remained locked at 1-1, the less likely David Moyes would ask his side to chase down the tighter target. in seventh place.

Perhaps Moyes, pulling on that pragmatic streak, wanted to see a proper defense after West Ham’s collapse against Newcastle. There was much talk of “resilience” from the Scot, who chased down Michail Antonio wasting a glorious opportunity on the hour, and particular delight in the way he spoke of restricting Spurs from so few clear-cut chances. “We had to defend,” said Moyes, who accepted a draw was the right result. “But that’s part of football.”

Related: Newcastle were frustrated when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s late penalty rescued Everton

Both managers were in philosophical mode. Although Moyes chose not to make any substitutions, perhaps because he was still scared by the memory of bringing on Kalvin Phillips against Newcastle, Ange Postecoglou turned on his bench five times. The Spurs manager could see that his side, who are now two points off fourth-placed Aston Villa, needed an extra gear in third. They were disappointed by their inability to create more after West Ham responded to Brennan Johnson’s early goal with an equalizer from Kurt Zouma.

“They sit deep and make it difficult,” Postecoglou said. “We probably lacked clarity of thought in the last third. They are human beings. I would love to have a lever and help them through that.”

The first talking point focused on whether a counterpunch team can be successful without a solid base. West Ham’s defense has been showing gaps of late, a league record of one clean sheet in 2024 which angered Moyes, and it was too easy for Spurs to strike after five minutes.

Neither James Ward-Prowse nor Tomas Soucek were close enough to James Maddison when the playmaker turned up in a pocket of space. West Ham surrendered the security provided by suspended midfielder Edson Álvarez. They struggle without Álvarez, who could have done more to stop Maddison isolating Timo Werner against Vladimir Coufal.

It was a mismatch. Werner went down on the outside and Coufal, who struggled against Newcastle’s wings last weekend, was unable to stop the forward from Johnson forcing a simple finish from close range.

The next 10 minutes were terrible for West Ham. Indecision settled in and Spurs almost profited from a high intense press. Pedro Porro and Son Heung-min went close after errors from Lucas Paquetá and Coufal.

But West Ham were threatening at 0-0, Jarrod Bowen sliding wide after Porro lost possession to Mohammed Kudus, and his physicality troubled Spurs. Even Paquetá joined in, taking a moment off his showboating to equalize Maddison.

It was 1-1 by then, West Ham’s equalizer coming when Spurs failed to deal with a corner. Bowen, a live string on the right, won it by driving against Destiny Udogie and the visitors were delighted when the England winger lifted the ball into the six-yard box. Antonio Guglielmo put Vicario on his line, Micky van de Ven was watching the ball and nobody challenged Zouma.

The goal revived West Ham, who saw Vicario free-test Ward-Prowse, but they were pegged back at times. Johnson’s pace was a concern and Maddison kept planning. Postecoglou thought Yves Bissouma was excellent in midfield.

West Ham looked to step up at the start of the second half, Antonio pulling off a great save from Vicario after soft play from Rodrigo Bentancur, Paquetá shot just wide.

But the possession stats heavily favored the Spurs. West Ham sank back, waiting for openings on the break, and one appeared on the hour, only for Antonio to shoot straight at Vicario after running on to Ward-Prowse’s pass and outmuscling Van de Ven.

Related: AIT-Nouri draw for Wolves at Burnley after Bruun Larsen’s opener

Spurs’ long spells of dominance resumed, although they rarely got behind West Ham. Maddison would fade before Dejan Kulusevski would succeed. West Ham, without a win in four league games, went in and hoped that another chance would emerge on the counter. Bowen, Paquetá and Kudus had sights on goal in extra time.

But Moyes seemed satisfied with a solid display from his centre-backs, Zouma and Konstantinos Mavropanos. West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski had little to do.

Spurs had 12 shots, including one that Udogie should have bettered in the final minute of extra time, but only four were on target. There was no breakthrough on either side.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *