LONDON: A two-week break for international matches has done nothing to suppress the relentless unpredictability of this season’s Premier League.
Goals are flowing at an unprecedented level in the worlds most popular league and the drama continues unabated, the latest exhibition coming at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday as West Ham United staged an improbable comeback that is starting to become the norm.
Trailing 3-0 after 81 minutes, West Ham scored three times to force a 3-3 draw the equaliser coming with 20 seconds left of the four minutes of stoppage time as Manuel Lanzini arrowed a piledriver into the top corner from 25 metres.
No team had previously avoided defeat when 3-0 down as late as the 81st minute in the Premier League.
With Aston Villa beating Leicester City 1-0 courtesy Ross Barkley’s stoppage-time goal and Brighton & Hove Albion equalising against Crystal Palace in added-on time, it continues to be the wildest of seasons.
“It’s really crazy at the moment,” said West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, who added that the feeling after Lanzinis last-gasp strike was one of the best he has had in his career.
SPURS ROCKED ON BALE’S RETURN
This wasn’t the homecoming Gareth Bale would have envisaged.
The Wales forward, who has joined Tottenham on loan from Real Madrid for a second spell at the London club, came off the bench in the 72nd minute for his first appearance since signing with Spurs leading 3-0 at the time.
Son Heung-min put Tottenham ahead inside a minute and two goals from Harry Kane had Spurs three up after 16 minutes.
Even though Fabian Balbuena’s header and Davinson Sanchez’s own-goal made it 3-2 by the 85th, Bale had the chance to seal the win when he waltzed past two defenders to break into the penalty area only to shoot wide on the stretch.
Then came Lanzini’s fearsome strike after a free kick was only partially cleared.
“Football happened,” Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho said, when asked for his thoughts on the dramatic finale. “This was a game that was in the pocket. But we lost two points.”
VILLA MAINTAIN PERFECT START
Having scored seven goals against Liverpool two weeks ago, Villa just needed one to see off Leicester and maintain its 100% start to the season.
Barkley’s long-range shot found the bottom corner in the first minute of stoppage time to seal the win at the King Power Stadium.
Dean Smith’s side have won four out of four and moved a point behind leaders Everton, who have played one more game.
“An important win today,” Barkley, who also scored in the 7-2 win over champions Liverpool before the international break, said. “I dedicated that goal to the physio because I was 50-50 in the week and he did a really good job getting me right.”
There was another dramatic finish at Selhurst Park as Alexis Mac Allister netted his first Premier League goal in the 90th minute to give Brighton a point at Palace, who had had hung on to the lead given them by Wilfried Zaha’s 19th-minute penalty.
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2020