West Ham United fell to a 2-0 Barclays Premier League defeat by Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Monday.
Croatia midfielder Luka Modric struck a bouncing volley past Robert Green after just eleven minutes before Jermain Defoe made the game safe with nine minutes remaining.
The Hammers tried hard to force their way back into the game after Modric's early opener, but could not find a path past Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
Jack Collison and Alessandro Diamanti came closest to nicking a goal for the visitors, but both shot too close to the Brazilian.
West Ham, already without hamstring-injury victim Mark Noble, saw their task made even harder when both inspirational midfielder Scott Parker and left-back Herita Ilunga were forced off within the opening 19 minutes. Luis Jimenez, impressive as a substitute against Portsmouth on Boxing Day, and Jonathan Spector were their respective replacements.
As such, it was no surprise that the home side took the early initiative, with Aaron Lennon a constant menace down the right wing.
It was the England winger who created Modric's goal, swapping passes with international team-mate Defoe before cutting the ball back into the six-yard box, where it deflected off James Tomkins into the diminutive goalscorer's path. Although he did not hit his shot cleanly, it possessed enough strength to bounce past Robert Green.
Having gone ahead, Spurs upped the ante, with Tom Huddlestone shooting wide, Tomkins blocking a goalbound Peter Crouch flick and Defoe firing straight at Green.
The vast majority of the 35,994 crowd would have enjoyed much of what they saw before half-time, but the Hammers gave the home supporters more cause for concern after the break.
Even so, it was Tottenham who came closest to scoring the game's second goal. Defoe and Huddlestone both shot powerfully wide before Wilson Palacios saw his drive blocked behind by Matthew Upson.
It looked like the pressure would pay off eleven minutes after the break, only for Huddlestone's powerful daisy-cutter to ricochet back off the inside of the far post.
As the game reached its fourth quarter, the competitive nature of the fixture took over in the shape of four bookings in nine minutes. Guille Franco, Diamanti and Kovac all saw yellow for the Hammers, while Vedran Corluka was punished for a foul on the Italian.
With a little more than ten minutes remaining, Gianfranco Zola sent on Junior Stanislas for Collison, switching to a 4-4-2 diamond formation.
Unfortunately, the switch had no time to prove effective as Defoe rifled in Spurs' second after seeing his initial shot blocked by Green.
West Ham kept up their effort until the end, and Diamanti could have halved the deficit on 86 minutes, only for Gomes to beat away his rasping shot.
The Hammers take a break from league action for 13 days, and will hope for better luck when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Boleyn Ground on Sunday 10 January. Before then, Arsenal visit east London for an FA Cup third-round tie next Sunday, 3 January.