West Ham United went down to a single Jermain Defoe goal in the opening match of the Barclays Asia Trophy at the Workers Stadium in Beijing on Wednesday.
Defoe struck in the 75th minute on a hot and humid night to secure his side a place in the final of the pre-season tournament. The Hammers had several half-chances of their own but could not offer a serious threat to their London rivals' goal.
Gianfranco Zola sent his men out in a 4-3-3 formation that that included new signing Luis Jimenez in central midfield role. Carlton Cole was tasked with leading the line up front with support from Junior Stanislas and Luis Boa Morte on the flanks. Spurs were showing off a new signing of their own with Kyle Naughton starting on the right of midfield.
In a London derby played 5,000 miles from home, it was the team from the north of the capital that came out of the blocks stronger. Within the first minute a cross from Naughton had to be palmed over the crossbar by Robert Green and then, moments later, captain Luka Modric dragged a shot wide of the post from 25 yards.
West Ham fought back, though, and had their first chance six minutes later when Jimenez floated in a free-kick that saw James Collins rose to flick a header goalwards. His effort would surely have caused Carlo Cudicini in the Spurs goal some problems had it fallen either side of him rather than straight at him.
The Hammers suffered a blow six minutes later when Luis Boa Morte had to be stretchered off after catching his knee on the turf. The Portuguese was taken to hospital for his injury to be assessed. Mark Noble came on to replace him.
Tottenham came within a lick of paint away from taking the lead when Jamie O'Hara picked up a loose pass by Noble before feeding Roman Pavlyuchenko. The Russian struck a curling right-footed shot first time only to see it hit the inside of the post. Only a last-ditch tackle from Collins prevented the Russian from drilling home the rebound.
O'Hara was next to threaten Green's goal when he curled a shot inches wide and Pavlyuchenko followed suit when he blasted a good opening from the edge of the box high and wide.
After surviving a host of early attacks, West Ham gradually grew in confidence with Cole using his strength and power to valiantly lead the line. Indeed, it was the England striker who won the free-kick that led to his side's final chance of the half. Jimenez whipped it in from 40 yards out and, once more, Collins met the ball, but could only direct his header wide.
Zola sought to add some extra bite to his midfield at the interval with the introduction of Hammer of the Year Scott Parker, who came on in place of Dyer. Harry Redknapp made Tottenham's first change by bringing on Robbie Keane for Pavlyuchenko.
Spurs had another good opening six minutes later when a clever flicked through ball by Keane presented Defoe with a clear sight of goal, but the former Hammer could only place his volley high over the crossbar. Just before the hour mark, Noble and O'Hara were both then booked after tangling off the ball.
West Ham United, in their new home kit which goes on sale at club stores tomorrow, then had their best chance of the game when a clever one-two involving Jimenez and Cole saw the Chilean find some space in the area. With the angle tight, the loan signing from Inter Milan, did well to get a shot in that deflected off Tom Huddlestone and over the bar.
Zola introduced Savio in place of Stanislas as he sought to win the game outright and avoid the lottery of a penalty shoot-out and his Tottenham counterpart followed suit with Aaron Lennon coming on for Naughton.
With 18 minutes left Green was called into serious action for the first time as Modric raced into the area and forced the England stopper to save with his legs. At the other end, a superb run by Collison ended with the Welshman shooting straight at Cudicini.
Tottenham took the lead 15 minutes from the end when Defoe broke the offside trap to race onto a through ball. Faubert did his best to get near to close him down, but Defoe striker finished low past Green.
Jonathan Spector and Zavon Hines were introduced in place of Jimenez and Collison with ten minutes to go as West Ham desperately tried to get back on level terms. They had a half-chance when Faubert, who had been moved into midfield, crossed for Cole, but the 25-year-old could only find the stand behind Cudicini's goal.
Spurs' final change saw Jake Livermore come on for Palacious as West Ham gave it their all but ultimately could not find a way past the stubborn Spurs back line.
Zola's side will now play Beijing Guoan on Friday morning in the third/fourth place play-off, after they lost on penalties to Hull City in the other semi-final. Kick-off will be at 11am UK time.