West Bromwich Albion earned their first win of the new Barclays Premier League season as they defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
The Hawthorns club have endured a mixed start to life under Alan Irvine, but produced with a defiant performance that was capped off with a headed goal from James Morrison. The Scotland midfielder nodded home a 74th-minute corner from Chris Brunt and West Brom held onto their lead despite a spirited effort from the hosts.
Spurs were unchanged from their draw with Sunderland last weekend having rotated heavily in Europe in midweek, while Joleon Lescott was handed his debut in defence as Irvine made two changes to his team.
It was Lescott's defensive colleague, Craig Dawson, who almost made the first telling contribution to the match, nodding narrowly over after finding himself stationed high up the pitch following a corner. The hosts were then given another early warning when Saido Berahino latched on to a ball over the top but took himself too wide to trouble the goalkeeper with a poor initial touch.
Spurs showed plenty of attacking promise of their own in the opening stages, yet it was the visitors who arguably had the best of the chances. Lescott was unfortunate to miss out on a debut goal when Dawson accidentally blocked his shot from close range, while Craig Gardner brought an excellent save from Hugo Lloris with a shot from distance. West Brom had a claim for a penalty turned down when Dawson's header appeared to strike Emmanuel Adebayor's hand.
Spurs rallied and only a remarkable recovery tackle from Lescott prevented Adebayor from going through on goal. The visitors thought they had broken the deadlock before half-time when Berahino turned the ball home, only to see it ruled out after a marginal offside call.
Berahino was also involved in the first threatening moment of the second half as he punctuated an end-to-end passage of play by cutting inside Vlad Chiriches before stinging Lloris's palms with a left-footed drive.
Mauricio Pochettino, the Spurs head coach, had seen enough, and was prompted into a double change with Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli making way for Paulinho and Roberto Soldado.
Pochettino was almost immediately rewarded when only some brave goalkeeping from Ben Foster prevented Soldado from capitalising on a spill in the box.
The teams continued to exchange chances with Morrison and Soldado testing Lloris and Foster respectively as the game opened up. But it was a set-piece that handed West Brom the lead, with Morrison finding acres of space from Brunt's corner to head in unmarked.
Spurs pushed hard to get back on terms before the final whistle, but the visitors' obstinate back line could not be shaken.
That was typified by a marvellous headed clearance on the goalline from Dawson at the death that allowed West Brom to keep hold of all three points.
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino: "It's [UEFA Europa League] not an excuse. We played with 10 different players from the game against Partizan in Belgrade on Thursday. I believe that we were in a good condition to play the game today and to have a good game with a good performance but it is strange that we played very slow.
"I think the beginning of the game was wrong. We were very slow, we moved the ball very slowly, and we had a very slow tempo. In football you need to play quickly because the opponents sometimes, like West Brom today, play a bit deeper. You have to try to recover the ball and be aggressive in offensive situations."
"I don't know what is the best word to show my feeling but I am very disappointed because we had a very bad day, we played very slow and, at times during the game, the team looked very nervous. I think the result it not fair because I think the draw is fair when you analyse the game. But in the end if you make a mistake, you lose and this is why we have zero points."
West Bromwich Albion head coach Alan Irvine: "It's my most satisfying day in management for West Bromwich Albion. It's great to get that first win. Everybody makes such a big thing about it.
"I'll go back to that first game against Sunderland, when it looked like we were going to get that win on the first day and that would have avoided all the questions – so I suppose it puts that question to bed.But we can't rest on that, we have now got to back that performance up by getting other good results.
"I felt that there was probably a moment midway through the first half when the atmosphere and the mood in the ground change because we had had a sustained period of possession and some pressure and that obviously then can spread around the ground. We have experienced that obviously, at home. Fans are going to respond to what they see at that particular moment."
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