Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said his side were suffering from “stress and fatigue” after they slipped to defeat at home to West Ham in the Premier League.
Michail Antonio’s superb second-half strike was enough to inflict Spurs’ first loss after five games in their new stadium.
Spurs face Ajax in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday, their eighth game in April.
“The stress and the fatigue arrived. We are competing with circumstances that are not the best,” Pochettino said.
“We arrived for this game in a different condition and that was an important factor in the second half. It was really tough today.
“We cannot say now we were thinking about Tuesday.
“We wanted to win the three points to be in our position and arrive to the Champions League game in a very good mood and way, but it wasn’t and now we need to move on.”
Third-placed Spurs had won all four of their games since moving into Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this month.
Antonio’s goal in the 67th minute was the first they had conceded at home since moving into their new stadium and means they are not yet certain of finishing in the top four and securing Champions League football next season.
Victory ended a run of four games without a win for West Ham, who remain 11th in the table with two games to play this season.
They finished strongly, with Antonio and defender Issa Diop forcing Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris into saves in the closing stages, although West Ham’s Fabian Balbuena cleared a Vincent Janssen header off the line in stoppage time.
Spurs lack spark
Spurs’ prolonged wait to play in their rebuilt home was worth the wait before West Ham’s visit, with three league wins and a 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the first leg of their epic Champions League quarter-final.
But there had been signs of strain when they struggled to overcome relegation-threatened Brighton in their previous match.
Pochettino made four changes to the side that played Brighton but, after a good start, his players appeared to run out of steam.
Son Heung-min’s low strike forced West Ham keeper Lucasz Fabianski into a save at his near post, while a Lucas Moura shot zipped across the face of goal before half-time.
Christian Eriksen also forced Fabianski into action, this time with his feet, but West Ham were happy to counter-attack from the outset.
“We did not manage the ball properly,” Pochettino said. “It was a difficult game but in the second half we conceded a lot of space for them to counter-attack.
“The first half was good but we lost the ball too easily in the second half.”
West Ham were the better side after the break, and the game was deep into stoppage time when substitute Janssen almost earned Spurs a point.
With Spurs playing 24 hours before Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United – all of whom are vying for a place in the top four – Pochettino said, “It is a fight, it is a race, with two games to play. We knew that before.”
Rare road trip joy for Hammers
With just 16 points taken since their league campaign’s halfway point before this game, West Ham’s season was in danger of petering out.
Having earned only one point from their past eight away trips, the signs were not promising for an improvement.
But, after a first half in which Fabianski was the busier of the two keepers, West Ham looked the likelier to score after half-time.
“We were a complete team, defending together without the ball,” manager Manuel Pellegrini said.
“This is a transition season. We have demonstrated in big games that we can do it, but we must mentally convince ourselves that we can do better.”
Marko Arnautovic touched the ball only seven times in the first half, but a superb piece of control to give Ryan Fredericks a shooting chance early on signalled a better second-half display from the striker and his team-mates.
Arnautovic set up the game’s decisive moment, chipping the ball from the right into the path of Antonio, who controlled it with his chest before firing past Lloris from a tight angle.
“Arnautovic was very good,” said Pellegrini. “He made a brilliant pass for Antonio’s goal. It has been a difficult season but I am sure that we will recover the player that he could be.
There was also the unlikely sight of Diop’s long gallop through the middle of the pitch for a shot that lacked enough power to worry Lloris.
But there was also excellent work from Balbuena off the line in injury time, and a superb tackle in the area by Fredericks on Ben Davies, to help West Ham earn only their third away win of the season.
Man of the match – Michail Antonio (West Ham).
Arnautovic the assist king – the stats
- Tottenham have lost 17 games in all competitions this season, their most since 2008-09 (19).
- West Ham kept an away clean sheet for the first time in their past 10 league games, since a 2-0 win at Fulham in December.
- Tottenham have lost six of their past 10 league games (W3 D1), as many defeats as they suffered in their previous 28 (W22).
- Only Jose Mourinho (5) has beaten Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino more often in the Premier League than Manuel Pellegrini (4, level with Pep Guardiola).
- Michail Antonio’s goal was the first Tottenham had conceded at their new stadium in 427 minutes in all competitions.
- All 26 of Antonio’s Premier League goals have come from inside the box.
- Marko Arnautoic has provided more assists than any other West Ham player in the Premier League since the start of last season (10).