London, Oct. 18, 2020 (Reuters/Naija247news) Gareth Bale made his first appearance for Tottenham Hotspur for more than seven years on Sunday, but Manuel Lanzini ruined his homecoming with a superb stoppage-time equaliser for West Ham United.
Lanzini helped the visiting West Ham to grab an unlikely 3-3 draw in their English Premier League (EPL) clash at the Tottenham Stadium in London.
Welshman Bale, back in north London on loan from Real Madrid, came off the substitutes bench with 20 minutes remaining with Tottenham leading 3-0.
This was after Son Heung-min’s goal in the first minute and a double by Harry Kane, and the stage then looked set for Bale to mark his return in style.
But, instead, it was West Ham who recovered from a shocking opening 16 minutes to earn a point.
Fabian Balbuena’s 82nd minute header and Davinson Sanchez’s own goal had set up a nervy finale.
Then, in the fourth minute of stoppage time Lanzini fired an unstoppable shot from outside the area to spark wild scenes of celebration from the visitors.
Victory would have put Tottenham up into second place but they are in sixth place with West Ham in eighth.
It was only the third time in Premier League history that a side trailing by at least three goals going into the 80th minute had avoided defeat.
The other times were West Bromwich Albion’s comeback to draw 5-5 against Manchester United in 2013 and Norwich City’s 4-4 draw with Middlesbrough in 2005.
“It was one of those special moments in football,” West Ham midfielder Declan Rice said.
“They dropped off in the second half and didn’t try to kill the game and once we got one back we had the belief we could get a draw or a win.”
The pre-match talk was about Bale making his first appearance for the club he left in 2013 for Real Madrid for a then world record 100 million euros.
However, it was Tottenham’s deadly duo Son and Kane who appeared to have won the game for Spurs.
Kane’s pass sent Son away inside the first minute and the South Korean curled a shot inside the far post.
In the eighth minute Son played a pass to Kane and the England skipper nutmegged Rice before whacking a shot past Lukasz Fabianski.
In the 16th minute Son released Sergio Reguilon, who joined Spurs on the same day as Bale’s loan move was announced last month, and his cross invited Kane to head past Fabianski.
Tottenham were coasting in the second half and Kane was denied a hat-trick when his shot thumped the post.
Balbuena’s header looked like being a mere consolation for the Hammers but when Sanchez headed into his own net the visitors suddenly sensed an escape route.
In a frenetic finale Bale almost made it 4-2 with a mazy run and shot from the right, but the last laugh went to Lanzini.
After a free-kick was only partially cleared, the ball fell to the Argentine and he sent an unstoppable shot in off the underside of the crossbar.