Saturday, 25 September 2010

West Ham 1 Tottenham 0: Robert Green back to his best after World Cup nightmare


Up for it: West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green denies Peter Crouch and then delivers a defiant message to his critics in the press box (below right)

Robert Green bellowed his delight, as accompaniment to the raucous relief of the West Ham fans, marched over to the main stand to milk the applause and was seen to deliver a gesture of defiance in the direction of the press box.

After the months of being written off he has endured, who could deny him his right of reply?

Showing the agility that made him England's No 1 before his and the national team's shocking World Cup, Green pulled off some special saves as West Ham clung on to Frederic Piquionne's first-half headed goal for their first win of the season, all the sweeter against fierce London rivals.

What a difference a week makes, at the bottom as well as the top of the Premier League. After a draw at Stoke last weekend, a morale-boosting midweek Carling Cup win at Sunderland and now this entertaining encounter, all of a sudden life looks less dark in the East End as the nights draw in.

'I like emotions in sport,' said the West Ham manager Avram Grant of Green's reaction. 'I tell all my players that you don't have to say anything because if you perform on the pitch, that is the best speech.

'We are becoming stronger and stronger. We have made mistakes but we are learning from them. I am happy with the victory because I know much this game means to the supporters.'

By contrast, it has been a miserable few days a few miles north at Tottenham, taking in their Carling Cup defeat by Arsenal. This setback followed five straight wins over Harry Redknapp's former club and the manager now has to inspire some better finishing in his inconsistent side for their Champions League match at home to Twente Enschede on Wednesday.

Super Fred: West Ham striker Frederic Piquionne (left) wheels away in delight after opening the scoring against Tottenham

'It could have gone either way,' said Redknapp. 'It was more like a basketball match than a football match. It's the first time I have lost to the super Hammers but I don't feel any worse. I don't want to lose any game.'

In truth, his reorganised side, missing Ledley King and William Gallas from the defence, struggled to recover from a sluggish start, in which Carlo Cudicini had to save shots from Piquionne and Kieron Dyer as prelude to West Ham taking the lead.

Mark Noble swung a corner from the left into the danger area and Piquionne rose above his team-mate Manuel Da Costa to power home a header from 10 yards through a crowded goalmouth.

Spurs had been forced into longrange shots, with West Ham closing them down quickly and denying them room to create clear chances, Scott Parker and Noble terrier-like in midfield.

Green pushed attempts from Jermaine Jenas and the silky Rafael van der Vaart round posts to make stops that might have been expected. As Tottenham stepped up the pressure looking for an equaliser before half-time, however, Green excelled himself.

Strong arm tactics: Kieron Dyer battles for possession with Gareth Bale

When Aaron Lennon cut the ball back to Luka Modric, the Croat got in a powerful shot from 12 yards and a goal seemed certain before Green finger-tipped the ball on to the crossbar and to safety. From the corner, he then saved Van der Vaart's low header with his legs.

Illness forcing off Dyer was a blow to West Ham and with Spurs also starting the second period with renewed intent, the home side struggled to rediscover their rhythm.

After Tom Huddlestone, sent through by Alan Hutton, went round Green but turned the ball high and wide from an acute angle as an unmarked Peter Crouch begged for it in the middle, the feeling grew, however, that it would be a barren day for Spurs.

Indeed, West Ham might have grabbed a second - with Cudicini saving well from the lively Victor Obinna and Noble's 25-yard drive - to spare themselves a nervous endgame. No matter. Spurs had been left Green at the gills.

source: dailymail

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