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MATCH REPORT: SPURS 5, FULHAM 1

Posted on 26 December 2007  - 12:00

The team marked Boxing Day 2007 with a 5-1 victory over Fulham at the Lane.

The team marked Boxing Day 2007 with a 5-1 victory over Fulham at the Lane.

Two goals each from Robbie Keane and Tom Huddlestone, plus one for Jermain Defoe provided the margin in what was a comfortable win despite Fulham halving the deficit at one point.

The game got underway on a crisp early afternoon and the early exchanges were not as crisp as the weather. It was warming, however, to see Ledley King striding across the pitch looking like he had never been away, just his presence having a calming influence on those around him.

Jamie O'Hara retained his place in the side for his full home debut, Huddlestone partnering him in the heart of midfield and it was Tom pulling the midfield strings and providing what creative spark there was in the first third of the half.

Dimitar Berbatov gave Antti Niemi his first work of the afternoon on 24 minutes when he nodded a Steed Malbranque centre goalwards and the Finn sprung to his right and saved well.

Two minutes later Malbranque came so close to marking the occasion of playing against his old club with a goal, latching onto a Pascal Chimbonda knock-down with a rasping drive that crashed off the inside of the post. Thankfully, Keane was there right on cue to steer home the rebound.

While the boys were not exactly clicking through the gears on a slick performance level, they were coping with challenge presented by Fulham with ease. Defensively it was comfortable as the visitors were not bristling with ambition in the first half and the goal did not change things much.

Another goal should probably have been added before the break but a swift break resulting from Berbatov dispossessing Danny Murphy was perhaps overplayed a little and Keane was left with too much to do in the end.

It was two in stoppage, a dash down the left by Malbranque leading to Berbatov teeing up Huddlestone for a drive. The midfielder's effort completely wrong-footed Niemi in what was a class piece of finishing.

The football remained attack-minded in the second half, Keane flashing in a shot that Niemi did well to grab and hold. There was a twist on the hour when Clint Dempsey snatched on back for Fulham from a Hameur Bouazza cross, but the response was swift - just two minutes later.

Berbatov thrust his head onto an O'Hara corner and nodded towards the post where the knees of Keane were waiting to divert past Niemi.

The chances of a Keane hat-trick were ended with 22 minutes left when he was withdrawn in favour of Jermain Defoe but, for Huddlestone, there was still time to make another big impression.

Given the ball by Aaron Lennon around 20 yards out on 70 minutes, the midfielder flicked the ball up before driving a placed shot that escaped the clutches of Niemi and had those at the Lane purring in admiration.

The was another huge ovation three minutes later when Juande Ramos decided the time was right for the skipper to make his exit. The sum up Ledley's performance best you would just say he was his usual self. Adel Taarabt replaced him and, in a defensive shuffle, Chimbonda moved centrally, Lee Young-Pyo to the right and Jamie O'Hara slotted in at left back.

Taarabt added a few party tricks to go with the festive mood, while the substitute Moritz Volz saw a second yellow then red for a barge on Malbraque.

There was still time for Defoe to add to his account -seizing on a surge from Huddlestone in the final minute to prod past Niemi.

This was a case of job done, three points in the bank and a Merry Christmas.