Crouch, Bentley secure key win
Peter Crouch and David Bentley fired us to a key 2-0 win against Fulham in the Barclays Premier League at the Lane on Tuesday night.
Peter Crouch and David Bentley fired us to a vital 2-0 win against Fulham in the Barclays Premier League at the Lane on Tuesday night.
With every point now so precious, it was a welcome maximum after the recent goalless draw against Hull and defeat at Liverpool. The victory also re-established a three-point gap over the Reds as they were held at Wolves.
Bentley, returning for his first start since December 1, was involved as Crouch opened the scoring after 27 minutes and then saw his 60th-minute free-kick clip off Fulham's defensive wall and nestle in the back of the net.
Gareth Bale impressed again at left-back and Luka Modric's clever skills were vital on a night where a yard of space was hard to come by against a workaholic Fulham side.
Harry Redknapp made four changes from Saturday's FA Cup draw against Leeds United.
Vedran Corluka and Ledley King returned in defence for Alan Hutton and Sebastien Bassong - King wore the captain's armband again - with Bentley and Tom Huddlestone back in midfield for Jermaine Jenas and Niko Kranjcar, who missed out due to illness.
Following the recent performances of visiting goalkeepers Boaz Myhill and Casper Ankergren, you could have excused a collective sigh of 'here we go again' as went went straight on the front foot, only to see Huddlestone's half-volley turned around the post by Mark Schwarzer. Less than a minute gone, first save registered.
Unlike Hull and Leeds though, it wasn't a case of chance after chance in the first half. So well organised, Fulham make you fight for every yard of space from front to back and we had to work hard to do so.
Huddlestone connected well again but aimed straight at Schwarzer while after patient build-up on nine minutes, Bale's cross was nodded just wide by Crouch.
There was a moment of danger in the 12th minute when Zoltan Gera lofted the ball in for Bobby Zamora and Heurelho Gomes was out bravely to save at his feet. The keeper took a knock in the process and needed treatment to his right arm but was able to continue.
It took another 15 minutes for the next possibility when Bale and Modric worked a yard of space down the left and Bale's cross was almost spilled by Schwarzer with Crouch lurking.
The crucial opening goal arrived on 27 minutes and was all about Modric's persistence. Bentley crossed from the right, Schwarzer came and missed and it looked like the ball had to go out of play but as Bjorn Helge Riise tried to shepherd the ball out, Modric managed to flick it away from him and then fashion a cross for Crouch, who finished with a deft flick from eight yards.
Fulham rarely threatened our goal but restricted us to just two more noteworthy attempts in the first half, Huddlestone sliced wide and then Modric teased Aaron Hughes before firing just over.
The second half picked up where the first left off as we controlled possession and fought hard to carve out chances.
The first arrived after 50 minutes when Palacios timed his run to perfection to meet Bentley's cross only to see his header whistle just wide with Schwarzer rooted to the spot.
Damien Duff fired a warning shot at Gomes two minutes later - his first action since the 12th minute - but the next action on the hour was significant.
It started with Bale's driving run down the left which was brought crashing down by a combination of Hughes and Riise on the left corner of the box. Bentley lined-up the free-kick and his curler clipped off Riise and left Schwarzer wrong-footed as the ball looped home.
Bentley was enjoying a purple patch and tried his luck again minutes later from another free-kick, this time a good 30 yards out and central. The midfielder was accurate again, but this time straight at Schwarzer.
Bentley was also at the centre of the next chance on 76 minutes, this time whipping in a free-kick from the right that Michael Dawson headed inches wide.
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson made his third and final change in the 79th minute when David Elm replaced the ever-industrious Zamora, but if the visitors were adept at stopping chances, they also struggled to create. Gomes was forced into a dive as Diomansy Kamara let fly but it was only to cover a shot that went a yard wide.
Robbie Keane entered the fray for Jermain Defoe with nine minutes remaining but it was Fulham who pushed late on for a consolation, Gomes finally forced into action again to field Davies' volley in injury time.
Spurs: Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, King, Bale; Bentley, Huddlestone, Palacios, Modric; Crouch, Defoe. Subs: Alnwick, Hutton, Bassong, Jenas, O'Hara, Rose, Keane.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Hughes, Smalling, Hangeland, Baird; Riise (Davies, 63), Murphy, Dikgacoi, Duff; Gera (Kamara, 71); Zamora (Elm, 78). Unused subs: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Greening, Kallio.