A 90th-minute winner by Gareth Bale saw Tottenham Hotspur beat an impressive West Ham side 3-2 at Upton Park.
West Ham United were clearly up for the derby, and the hosts were on the front foot early. Both Matt Jarvis and Mohamed Diame came reasonably close to open the scoring for the Hammers, and Tottenham Hotspur looked somewhere between 'poor' and 'horrifically incompetent'.
But Gareth Bale completely ignored the fact that the rest of his side were struggling to string two passes together to hit the hosts with a sucker punch 13 minutes in. Guy Demel had managed to muscle Emmanuel Adebayor off the ball, but the right back's misplaced pass went straight across the top of the box to Bale.
James Collins made some token gestures towards closing him down, but instead allowed Bale to shift the ball onto his left foot 20 yards out. The result was a low finish into the bottom corner that wrong-footed Jussi Jaskelainen for good measure.
But if Bale had given Spurs hope of finishing the evening in third place, his colleagues undermined his work in fairly short order. A scramble in the penalty box eventually saw Scott Parker lunge at Andy Carroll in an attempt to clear, but the ball had already gone by the time the Tottenham midfielder's studs reached the on-loan striker. Howard Webb considered his options momentarily before pointing to the spot, and Carroll slammed his penalty into the roof of the net, leaving Hugo Lloris helpless.
Although they'd equalised, it wasn't all good news for West Ham. Kevin Nolan had managed to hurt himself in the opening stages when he attempted a challenge on Parker, and the captain finally succumbed to his injury in the 36th minute, to be replaced by Matthew Taylor.
Jaaskelainen, meanwhile, was doing a fine job keeping Spurs at bay whenever they went forward. On both sides of the break, the veteran goalkeeper was forced into superb stops when Steven Caulker was left unmarked from corners, but better was to come. Tottenham came within inches of scoring twice in the 57th minute, but Jaiskelainen somehow managed to tip Gylfi Sigurdsson's skipping drive onto the post before preventing Adebayor from converting the rebound from point-blank range.
The visitors were made to pay for the wasted chances shortly thereafter when some frighteningly poor defending saw the improbable figure of Joe Cole break the offside trap, bring the ball down with a spectacular piece of whirling witchcraft, and roll the ball expertly into the bottom corner with Lloris guessing the wrong way. 2-1 to West Ham.
Then it was back to the Jaaskelainen show. Again, the goalkeeper saved spectacularly from Caulker on a corner as the Hammers continued their unorthodox technique of refusing to mark anyone on set pieces, and then managed to tip Bale's left-footed drive onto the crossbar. Lloris then came up with a fantastic stop on Taylor after the midfielder had been played clean through on goal.
But then came the equaliser. Again, West Ham's set piece marking deserted them, and Joey O'Brien's clearing header cannoned off Winston Reid and set the stage for a scramble that was eventual poked in at the back post by Sigurdsson -- although Adebayor would have scored if he hadn't completely missed his attempted shot.
Both sides wanted the win and pushed hard for a third goal, but hosts failed to take advantage of some poor defending by refusing to pull the trigger when they had clear sights on Lloris's goal. Tottenham fared better, because they have Gareth Bale, who finished off the match with a phenomenal curling drive that capped an incredible run forward.
Yeah, he's pretty good at football. Surprise!