By Neil Robinson
LONDON (Reuters) – Jose Mourinho began life as Tottenham Hotspur manager with a 3-2 victory at West Ham United — their first away win in 10 months — on a Saturday when the Premier League’s pacesetters Liverpool and Leicester City also took three points.
VAR had a say in Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace and Leicester City’s 2-0 triumph at Brighton & Hove Albion.
With Norwich City, Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers also winning away, Southampton were the only travelling side not to claim three points, although they were only denied by a 96th-minute Arsenal equaliser by Alexandre Lacazette in a 2-2 draw.
That result will pile more pressure on manager Unai Emery, particularly after Mourinho’s winning start at rivals Spurs.
The Portuguese head coach’s new side should really have romped home after strikes by Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane, whose 175th goal for the club moved him up to third on their all-time scorers’ list.
Mourinho chose to highlight the contribution of midfielder Dele Alli, who produced an outrageous piece of skill in the lead-up to Spurs’ second goal by somehow scooping the ball down the line to Son when it had appeared out of play.
“(Alli’s) too good to not be one of the best players in the world and not playing with the national team (England),” said Mourinho, who hugged the midfielder warmly as he left the field.
But Mourinho admitted he was disappointed with the way Tottenham leaked two late goals, a familiar failing from a side who have kept one clean sheet in the league all season.
“I was really happy before we conceded the two goals, we were playing well, bringing to the game things we had tried in training,” said 56-year-old Mourinho.
Spurs are ninth on 17 points with West Ham 16th on 13.
Liverpool grabbed another late winner through Roberto Firmino at Selhurst Park against a spirited Palace side who were controversially denied an opener from James Tomkins after VAR spotted a push on defender Dejan Lovren.
Juergen Klopp’s side rode their luck to take the lead through Sadio Mane after the break, although Wilfried Zaha gave Palace hope of a point with a goal in the 82nd minute before Firmino intervened to make it 12 league wins out of 13.
VAR, the season’s perennial talking point, also had a say at Brighton, where Leicester’s Jamie Vardy was ordered to retake his penalty as the Foxes secured a fifth straight league win after Ayoze Perez had opened the scoring for the visitors.
Leicester remain eight points behind leaders Liverpool, who have 37, but two points ahead of Chelsea and three in front of champions Manchester City, who meet later on Saturday.
Arsenal have dropped further off the top-four pace after a poor result against Southampton, with boos ringing around the Emirates stadium despite Lacazette’s 96th-minute goal — his second equaliser of the game.
“We’re kicking ourselves,” said Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse after they failed to hold on for the win. “On a positive note, it’s a building block for us and we have some winnable games coming up.”
Everton’s Marco Silva is another manager feeling the heat following his side’s 2-0 home defeat by Norwich City, a result that moved the visitors off bottom spot.
They are replaced by Watford, who lost 3-0 to Burnley after strikers Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes scored in the second half to secure their team’s first away win of the season.
Wolves moved up to fifth as Joao Moutinho and Raul Jimenez earned Nuno Espirito Santo’s reinvigorated side a 2-1 win at 10-man Bournemouth, who had Simon Francis dismissed 37 minutes into his first league start since Boxing Day for a second booking.
(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Ken Ferris)