West Ham United secured their Premier League status after stemming a run of four straight defeats with a 2-0 win at home to 10-man Tottenham Hotspur yesterday.
The early dismissal of Spurs centerback Younes Kaboul gave West Ham control and they prevailed through a Harry Kane own goal and a Stewart Downing free-kick, his first goal for the club.
Victory took West Ham to 40 points ahead of their trip to Manchester City on the season’s final day and will relieve some of the pressure on manager Sam Allardyce.
Meanwhile, Spurs are now in danger of being pipped to sixth place, which brings with it a berth in next season’s Europa League. The defeat left Tim Sherwood’s men six points above Manchester United, who have two games in hand and a vastly superior goal difference.
Bidding for a third consecutive win, Spurs made an encouraging start at Upton Park, with Kane almost embarrassing West Ham goalkeeper Adrian by charging down a clearance inside the first minute.
Emmanuel Adebayor then shot meekly at Adrian after being teed up by Christian Eriksen, but in the 25th minute the momentum tilted sharply in the hosts’ favor.
Kaboul was sent off for clipping the heels of the fleeing Downing and although Hugo Lloris tipped over Andy Carroll’s thunderous subsequent free-kick, West Ham took the lead from the corner that ensued.
Carroll leapt to meet Downing’s cross at the back post with a downward header and in attempting to head the ball over the bar, Kane succeeded only in lifting it over Lloris and into the net.
Spurs manager Sherwood responded by introducing centerback Vlad Chiriches in place of Kane, but still West Ham came forward.
Lloris had to make a fine low save to touch a Matt Taylor drive around the post, but in the 44th minute West Ham doubled their lead.
Downing’s 25-yard free-kick should have been blocked by the wall, but Adebayor and Paulinho inexplicably stepped apart, allowing the ball to pass between them and into the bottom right-hand corner.
Carroll drilled a volley wide in first-half injury time and it was only the astonishing reflexes of Lloris that kept the scoreline respectable in the second period.
After five minutes, the France international produced an impressive double save, parrying a spectacular overhead-kick from Mohamed Diame and then kicking the ball away from Kevin Nolan, before Taylor steered the rebound wide.
Moments later, he came to Spurs’ rescue again, charging from his line to block with his knee after Nolan had seized on a Carroll knock-down. Lloris was then obliged to save at his near post from Taylor, before opposite number Adrian got in on the act in stoppage time with a superb one-handed save to thwart marauding Spurs left back Danny Rose.