Tottenham was transformed by Gareth Bale’s homecoming, just not in the way that Jose Mourinho had imagined.
Cruising 3-0 when Bale came off in the bench in the 72nd minute against West Ham, Tottenham incredibly collapsed in a game it had been in control of to draw 3-3 in the Premier League on Sunday.
It was with almost the last kick of the game that Manuel Lanzini blasted a shot from distance into the roof of the net to snatch a point that seemed extremely unlikely when Son Heung-min scored in the first minute and Harry Kane netted twice by the 16th minute.
“It’s difficult to believe we lost two points, threw them away,” Mourinho said.
Agonizingly for Bale, after Fabián Balbuena pulled one back in the 82nd and Davinson Sánchez scored an own-goal three minutes later, the on-loan forward from Real Madrid had a golden chance to score Tottenham’s fourth.
Released by Kane, Bale sent Angelo Ogbonna sliding to the turf as he drilled into the penalty area but managed to drag a shot wide.
“It’s a pity he couldn’t score the fourth goal that could kill the game,” Mourinho said. “The decision not to start him was I think a good decision. … It was a message to the team that everyone has to fight for a position.”
Rather than any joy for Bale on his return to Tottenham after seven years, West Ham was celebrating in a way that seemed unimaginable in the first half.
“For some reason they didn’t push on in the second half, try to kill off the game,” West Ham midfielder Declan Rice said. “Once we got one we had to believe we could come back to draw or win.”
It was the second straight league game at home where Tottenham had thrown away a winning position after being held 1-1 by Newcastle three weeks ago after conceding a penalty. But that was followed by a League Cup win over Chelsea, a 7-2 rout of Maccabi Haifa in the Europa League, and 6-1 dismantling of Manchester United before the international break.