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A fine brace from Jermain Defoe helped Tottenham to a 3-1 victory against West Ham in a fiery London derby at White Hart Lane.
Defoe scored either side of half-time to sink his former club while Gareth Bale also found the net to give Tottenham a confident and morale-boosting win.
Spurs were far the better team and deserved the win, which moved the north London club above West Ham in to seventh.
The only crumb of comfort for the visitors was Andy Carroll’s late header - his first goal for the club.
Defoe, who played 93 games for the Hammers at the start of his career, looked particularly up for the contest. The 30-year-old gained a yard in the box in the first minute, but Joey O’Brien tracked back to rescue the Hammers.
He rifled a poor shot wide but then showed initiative by latching on to Sandro’s through-ball soon after only to shoot straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Spurs continued to lay siege to the West Ham goal. Bale struck a powerful shot that hit the underside of the bar and bounced off the line to Clint Dempsey who could only head straight at the West Ham goalkeeper.
Tempers boiled over just before the half hour when Mark Noble was booked for a rash tackle on Aaron Lennon and there were heated scenes between the two benches as Neil McDonald engaged in a spat with Jose Mario Rocha.
West Ham started to get back in the game towards the end of the first half. Kevin Nolan bustled in to the Spurs box but Sandro blocked the forward’s shot just in time.
Spurs went immediately on the counter through Lennon, who charged at the Hammers defence before driving just wide.
Tottenham continued their domination after the restart and it only seemed a matter of time before the second came.
Bale fired a dipping 30-yard free-kick just over the bar and the Welshman drove powerfully at Jaaskelainen soon after but O’Brien cleared before Defoe could convert the rebound.
West Ham made a rare foray in to the Spurs half through Nolan, who latched on to a ball over the top but Spurs’ goalkeeper Hugo Lloris gathered his cross before Carroll could convert.
Dempsey came agonisingly close to adding a second for the north Londoners, the American firing a peach of a drive that clattered the West Ham woodwork.
The home fans, aware of Spurs’ tendency let leads slip this season, became nervous - but Dempsey put those nerves to rest when he lifted the ball over the West Ham defence and found Bale, who got the ball out from under his feet to prod past Jaaskelainen.
Six minutes later it was game over. Tom Huddlestone robbed a dallying Carroll and Sandro snatched the ball off Mohamed Diame to release Lennon. The winger sped clear off his marker and squared for Defoe, who made it 3-0.
Tottenham coasted along but their lead was reduced by one when Carroll met O’Brien’s cross to head in.
Jaaskelainen saved well to prevent Defoe from grabbing a hat-trick and Bale also went close to adding his second at the death.
|28 Nov 2012||v Liverpool (H)|
|01 Dec 2012||v Fulham (A)|
|09 Dec 2012||v Everton (A)|
|16 Dec 2012||v Swansea (H)|
|22 Dec 2012||v Stoke (H)|
|26 Dec 2012||v Aston Villa (A)|