Cup Run Ended By Spurs
West Ham United may have beaten Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League this season but just three days before Christmas, they were unfortunately not able to give their fans the present they all craved, as they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup after a 2-1 defeat at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday night.
David Moyes named a strong looking side for this quarter-final tie, as Ben Johnson, Declan Rice, Tomáš Souček and Jarrod Bowen all made the starting line-up, while youngsters Ajibola Alese and Jamal Baptiste were once again named on the bench. Ryan Fredericks was involved in the matchday squad for the first time since suffering a groin injury at Manchester United in the third round of this competition.
As always when these two teams meet, both are usually up for the occasion and it was no different here. Moyes and Antonio Conte saw their sides attempt speculative efforts early on in what started as a fiercely contested London derby.
The visitors had seen their weekend fixture at home to newly-promoted Norwich City postponed, whereas Spurs were in action just three days earlier and although this didn’t appear to make much difference, the home side had the first real effort of the match when Lucas Moura found Harry Kane with a superb ball but the striker couldn’t beat Alphonse Areola, despite a powerful shot.
The Hammers went close themselves soon after. Harrison Ashby won a free-kick, which Bowen sent over but Hugo Lloris was able to punch the effort away.
Tottenham’s French stopper was tested again when Manuel Lanzini tried his luck from a corner but he was again in the right place to prevent the Irons from going in front.
West Ham were piling on the pressure by this point and Nikola Vlašić was next to try and give the visitors an advantage. The Croatian received possession from Arthur Masuaku but on his way towards goal, took an extra touch and couldn’t get his shot away.
Despite the Irons dominating possession, it was Conte’s side who opened the scoring on twenty nine minutes. Steven Bergwijn managed to hold off Craig Dawson and play a one-two with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, before he was the man to finally beat Areola.
West Ham hadn’t won a match since beating Chelsea on 4 December and immediately set about trying to find an equaliser. Vlašić crossed into the box, Souček beat Davison Sanchez and sent the ball towards goal but Lloris made a superb save.
The same two players were at it again shortly after. Lloris again was in the right place to deal with Souček’s second header as he pushed it over for a corner. Bowen took responsibility and sent the set-piece over, Rice got to the ball ahead of the Frenchman but Dawson unfortunately headed over.
Within three minutes of falling behind, the East Londoners were on level terms again when Bowen put the ball past Lloris after yet more combination play from Souček and Vlašić.
The travelling support celebrated but, as happened to Spurs when the visitors levelled, the joy was short lived for the travelling contingent and Spurs went back in front soon after. Bergwijn showed clever movement to evade the attentions of Lanzini before setting up Moura to put the ball beyond Areola again.
Souček had been a real threat in this game and he almost added his name to the scoresheet when Lanzini sent a cross towards him but the Czech midfielder was denied by a superb clearance from Tottenham youngster Oliver Skipp.
The hosts could have been further ahead before the break and when referee Christopher Kavanagh bought a frantic first-half to a close, you can bet the crowd would have been expecting more of the same after the break.
West Ham had a great chance to find a second equaliser shortly after the teams had reemerged from the dressing rooms. Bowen met Masuaku’s corner but unfortunately his effort went inches wide.
The former Hull City winger was having a superb game and he was involved again when he received possession following a great pass from Lanzini. He did well enough to beat two Spurs’ defenders but unfortunately, Lloris was alert and thwarted him on this occasion.
Just after the hour, Conte introduced Harry Winks into the action to take the place of Moura and Spurs could have sealed a semi-final place had Kane found him but Issa Diop stepped in to prevent any further danger.
Moyes decided to make a double change on sixty eight minutes as he introduced both Pablo Fornals and Saïd Benrahma for Lanzini and Vlašić.
The former Brentford man nearly made an instant impact when he benefited from a deflection, following a cross from Ashby and shot on the turn. Unfortunately though, the effort didn’t trouble Lloris, as it flew over the bar.
Benrahma then tried his luck with a couple more efforts but the hosts’ defence stood firm.
Moyes made his third change by replacing Ashby with Andriy Yarmolenko with ten minutes of normal time to play. As soon as the Ukrainian had entered the fray, he presented Benrahma with another chance as they linked up well. The Algerian then sent a swerving effort towards goal but it ended up going wide.
One last chance came and went for the Hammers, as Yarmolenko had gone close with three minutes of stoppage time having been signalled but a deflection meant it landed on the top of the net and the final whistle was blown.
It was great for West Ham’s loyal fan base to watch the team overcome the challenges of both Manchester United and Manchester City but unfortunately, they couldn’t knock their fierce rivals out of a cup competition. They will try and get back to winning ways when Southampton arrive for a Boxing Day clash in Stratford.