Two goals in six minutes late at White Hart Lane have put West Ham into the League Cup semifinals, with Tottenham’s first match post-André Villas Boas ending with elimination from England’s second cup competition. Despite a 67th minute opener from Emmanuel Adebayor, Spurs were upset by goals from Matthew Jarvis and Modibo Maiga, Tim Sherwood’s debut as Tottenham’s caretaker ending in disappointment.
Though Spurs changed formation and brought the likes of Adebayor back into the team, the performance had many of the hallmarks of their previous troubles. A team that was able to dominate possession with a skill level clear superior to its opposition’s was unable to generate enough chances on goal, putting four attempts on target despite holding 68 percent of the ball. West Ham, however, dominating the final stages of the match, finished with eight hosts on goal, their pressure paying off with a late, comeback victory at the expense of a suspect Spurs defense.
The Hammers join Manchester City, Manchester United, and Sunderland in the League Cup semifinals, with Sam Allardyce’s team set to face the Citizens in the round of four. Spurs, on the other hand, are out of a competition they last won in 2008, their new coach unable to reverse the team’s coach after Monday’s firing of Villas-Boas.
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The match marked the debut of Sherwood as caretaker manager, who ushered in the post-Villas-Boas era by starting Adebayor and Jermaine Defoe at forward, changing Spurs’ formation to feature two strikers up front. Gylfi Sigurdsson was partnered with Moussa Dembélé in a two-man midfield supported by Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon wide, another choice that would have been unlikely under Tottenham’s recently deposed boss.
The selection produced some lopsided first half statistics but no change on the scoreboard. Spurs held 72 percent of the ball and outshot West Ham 11-2, with Andros Townshend proving particularly effective down the left. But with each side only managing one shot on target, the game began its second half scoreless, Sherwood’s possession-hogging, goalless progress matching his predecessor’s possession-hogging, goalless failings.
By the opening of the second, West Ham was playing a bigger part in the game, yet come the hour, a more contested match still lacked in chances. James Collins’ blast from the edge of the Hammers’ attacking third had doubled his team’s tries on target, but Spurs had yet to re-test second choice keeper Adrían in the visitors’ goal. With the Hammers getting more chances to play balls down the field, there was the increasing threat of the match being stolen from the hosts.
Those fears appeared to be quelled in the 67th minute when Sherwood’s recall of Adebayor paid off. After Defoe had claimed a ball down the left, streaking deep into the Spurs’ attacking third, a bullet cross found an open Adebayor at the far post. Drilling a volley into the right side of goal, the formerly-forgotten striker gave Spurs what seemed a well-deserved lead.
But over the rest of the match’s final half-hour, West Ham proved the better side, that threat of theft coming good on Jarvis’s 80th minute goal. On a long ball from Adrían, Maiga flicked a header on to Matthew Taylor, who swept a pass across the penalty area to Jarvis on the left. The former Wolverhampton winger’s quick shot gave Hugo Lloris little chance to get across goal, the Hammers’ equalizer finishing in the top of Tottenham’s net.
Five minutes later, Sherwood’s debut was ruined, with a cross from the right finding Maiga for a surprisingly simple winner. Playing the ball out wide, West Ham found substitute Mohamed Diamé, who saw no pressure before targeting Maiga just outside of the six-yard box. In between defenders, Maiga had space to head his shot down and inside the left post, putting West Ham into the semifinals.
In a six-minute stretch, all the control Spurs had exerted throughout the match — control that seemed to come good with Adebayor’s opener — faded into insignificance. Though it wasn’t a 6-0 or 5-0 loss, it was a cup-eliminating defeat to a team that’s seen little other success this year. For the second time this season, Tottenham’s fallen to West Ham, with this defeat costing them their spot in the League Cup.