LONDON – 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 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's header in the 82nd and Davinson Sánchez's 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 I think was a good decision, a decision to show that he doesn’t have a beautiful chair waiting for him in the team and he sits there the first time he can. It was a message to the team that in this team everybody has to fight for positions."
Rather than any joy for Bale on his return to Tottenham after seven years, it was a player brought on even later than the Welshman who ended up celebrating. It seemed unimaginable in the first half that the game would end with Lanzini ripping off his shirt and the visiting players piling on top of each other with West Ham manager David Moyes charging onto the pitch deliriously.
“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.
Spurs were as ruthless as they were at Old Trafford, initially, in this London derby.
Just 48 seconds had elapsed when Kane released Son to curl in the opener. The pair combined for an eighth time this season before Kane nutmegged Rice and struck low into the net. It was Sergio Reguilón's cross that Kane headed in for the third.
The game was under control until Mourinho disrupted it with a trio of changes, including Bale's arrival. Never before has a team had a 3-0 lead after 82 minutes in the Premier League and surrendered it.
“My guys were not strong enough to cope with it psychologically,” Mourinho said. “The last few seconds, we lost two points.”
Tottenham has eight points from five games to sit in sixth place as it chases a return to the Champions League with a top-four finish. West Ham is a point further back.