Jermain Defoe bagged a brace as Tottenham Hotspur beat West Ham United 3-1 at White Hart Lane to move up to seventh place in the Premier League.
Spurs were firmly in the ascendancy for much of the first 45 minutes but had to wait until the penultimate minute of the half for Defoe to turn their dominance into an advantage.
The hosts clinically exposed a more expansive West Ham formation early in the second half to race into a three-goal lead with strikes from first Gareth Bale then Defoe.
Andy Carroll, who had been a peripheral figure for much of the game, nodded his first goal for West Ham with a little under 10 minutes remaining but it turned out to be nothing more than a consolation in what was a disappointing performance from the men from east London.
The win was slightly soured by an injury to Sandro in the dying minutes, though, who was stretchered off after a coming-together with Mohamed Diame.
Andre Villas-Boas knows better than most the fickle nature of football management and a record of four defeats in their last five Premier League games did not read well for the Portuguese coming into his second London derby in succession.
Much of that run has coincided with the absence of summer signing Moussa Dembele, who, despite returning to action as a substitute against Lazio in midweek, was only fit enough for a place on the bench. Hugo Lloris, outstanding during an otherwise abject display in Rome, retained his place in goal.
Sam Allardyce’s Hammers sat in an impressive seventh coming into this fixture, but the match marked the start of a testing week that includes a midweek trip to Manchester United followed by another London derby with Chelsea next weekend.
Allardyce could once again call on the services of record signing Matt Jarvis but decided a place on the bench would best suit his recovery from injury. Jack Collison, Ricardo Vaz Te and Yossi Benayoun remained unavailable through injury.
The hosts showed no signs of weariness following Thursday night’s Europa League excursion and began brightly with former West Ham man Defoe having a sight of goal early on, but, with his touch heavy, James Tomkins was alert to clear his lines.
It did, however, set the tone for an opening 20 minutes or so which were dominated by Spurs as Allardyce’s men sat rigidly deep.
With five in midfield, Carroll cut an isolated figure up front as Bale looked for space between the West Ham lines. The Welshman, having received the ball in midfield with his back to goal, beat a man and drove at the Hammers defence; just as it looked like he had overrun it, he unleashed a hellish shot that rebounded back off the crossbar with only 12 minutes on the clock.
The home side could not maintain their intensity though and West Ham’s rigid tactical discipline began to wear on Spurs’ creativeness as the half progressed. As Spurs began to look slightly bereft of ideas, Carroll started to have more of an impact on proceedings as the visitors' improved accuracy with the ball forward was complimented with strong midfield running.
A lack of concentration from Clint Dempsey almost cost Spurs dear as the Hammers began to get a foothold in the game. With the American flat on his heels, Tomkins stole the ball and started a counter-attack that culminated in two desperate flailing blocks from Spurs players preventing Kevin Nolan the opportunity to give his side the lead.
Having started brightly in tandem with Bale, Defoe had faded as the half wore on. Starved of service, the former Hammer was dropping deep to see more of the ball.
In the penultimate minute of the half he collected the ball in midfield, showed great upper body strength to hold off two West Ham players and drove at goal before firing past Jussi Jaaskelainen from outside the box to give the hosts the lead at the interval.
A goal down, West Ham were forced to play higher up the pitch come the second half and Villas-Boas’s side clinically took advantage of the extra space afforded to them to carve out a number of decent chances, but West Ham could have been level a minute before the hosts doubled their advantage.
Lloris had to be alert to claim at the feet of Matthew Taylor following what had looked like an inch perfect cross from Nolan. The French captain stole it off the foot of the substitute before launching a quick break that culminated in the second from Bale.
From the goalkeeper’s throw, Dempsey thudded the bar before reclaiming the ball and lofting a perfect ball over the top for Bale to double his side’s advantage with 58 minutes on the clock.
Dempsey also had a hand in the third on 64 minutes when he released Aaron Lennon, who drew Jaaskelainen before squaring the ball to Defoe for the easiest of tap-ins.
Allardyce introduced Carlton Cole soon after the third goal. Alongside Carroll, the two became a far more potent threat but credit must go to Villas-Boas, whose decision to start Michael Dawson ahead of William Gallas went some way to nullifying the long-ball threat from the visitors.
Bale threatened to add a fourth from distance as Spurs continued in the ascendancy but West Ham, with more impetus with a focal point to their attack, grabbed a consolation in the 82nd minute when Carroll rose highest to head past Lloris – to concede was harsh on the Frenchman who had patrolled his box with great authority for much of the game.
That result brings a run of three Premier League defeats on the spin to an end for the home side.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham): Has developed more of an all-round game under Andre Villas-Boas. Scored a brace – one of which was a great individual strike - but his link-up play as the lone striker was superb.
Tottenham: Lloris 7, Walker 7, Caulker 6, Dawson 6, Vertonghen 6, Huddlestone 5, Sandro 7, Lennon 6, Bale 7, Dempsey 6, Defoe 8. Subs: Dembele 6, Sigurdsson 5, Livermore 5.
West Ham: Jaaskelainen 5, O'Brien 5, Reid 5, Tomkins 5, McCartney 5, Noble 5, Nolan 6, Diame 5, O'Neil 5, Maiga 4, Carroll 5. Subs: Taylor 5, Jarvis 6, Cole 5.