Tottenham Hotspur moved into the Premier League’s top four as it returned to form with a 2-0 home win over West Ham United that left its London rival in the bottom three on Sunday.
There was little to separate the sides in a forgettable first half but the host stepped up the pace after the interval with goals by Emerson Royal and substitute Son Heung-min.
It was an important win for Spurs after the defeat at Leicester City and a midweek loss away to AC Milan in the Champions League last 16 first-leg as it leapfrogged Newcastle United.
Right-back Emerson marked his 50th Premier League game by opening the scoring in the 56th minute.
Son, who has struggled for form this season and was left out of the starting lineup by stand-in manager Cristian Stellini, was then found by Harry Kane four minutes after coming on to double Tottenham’s advantage in the 72nd.
Relegation-threatened West Ham had started the derby brightly with Jarrod Bowen wasting an early chance but offered little and have now won only once in its last 11 league games with pressure mounting on manager David Moyes.
Tottenham has 42 points from 24 games, one more than Newcastle who has a game in hand. West Ham is in 18th place with 20 points from 23 matches, a point below the safety zone.
“It was a really difficult first half because it was a game that we had players who fight a lot, we choose this type of team for this sort of game,” said Stellini, in the absence of head coach Antonio Conte who is recovering from surgery.
“In the second half we played well, our energy was bigger and we produced many situations to score,” he told Sky Sports.
Stellini shook up the starting lineup after Tottenham’s back-to-back defeats with Son and Ivan Perisic benched.
Initially, his side laboured and there was little for the home fans to get excited about in the opening 45 minutes, although Spurs did have a penalty appeal turned down when Richarlison’s pass was handled by Thilo Kehrer.
Had Bowen scored early on when well positioned instead of shooting wide, West Ham might have capitalised on a Tottenham team who have struggled desperately for consistency.
Spurs was far better in the second half but Kane and Richarlison wasted chances before a flowing move gave the hosts the lead.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s superb pass released Ben Davies down the left and his pass was perfectly weighted for Emerson Royal to coolly slot a shot past goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
The second goal was a much more familiar link-up as Kane’s pass released Son and he fired a right-foot shot into the net.
It was only Son’s fifth league goal of the season, with three of his other efforts coming in a hat-trick off the bench in a home win against Leicester City.
“With the space, Son is an amazing player and we try to use him in this way,” Stellini said of not starting the South Korean. “It was a good idea. Son has a goal so we are happy for him. He has to stay calm and produce his best performance.”
West Ham manager David Moyes said his side had played too slowly after the break.
“It’s a poor defeat for us, we expected to get something from this game but a couple of defensive lapses were the difference,” he said.
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