Happy New Year!
Gareth Bale's 11th goal of the season gave us a 1-0 New Year's Day victory over Fulham at the Lane to make it a perfect start to 2011.
Gareth Bale’s 11th goal of the season gave us a 1-0 New Year’s Day victory over Fulham at the Lane to make it a perfect start to 2011.
It wasn’t the most resounding win but nonetheless stretches our unbeaten run to 11 games, and a third straight success caps off an excellent Christmas period.
We came under pressure from the visitors in the second half but defended well throughout as we reclaimed our place in the Premier League’s top four off Chelsea, who play against Aston Villa at home on Sunday.
William Gallas made a timely return to fitness to take the place of the suspended Younes Kaboul alongside captain Michael Dawson at the heart of our defence.
And the pair were tested by the tireless running of Fulham front two Clint Dempsey and Andy Johnson in the opening stages but held firm against anything thrown at them.
We also suffered a blow with Alan Hutton limping off after just 27 minutes, but it was around the half hour mark that we started getting into our stride.
Both Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Roman Pavlyuchenko tested Mark Schwarzer with shots before we took the lead three minutes before the break.
Gallas burst out of defence and did well to win a free-kick 25 yards out, Rafael van der Vaart swung it goalwards and the head of Bale diverted the ball past a wrong-footed Schwarzer and into the roof of the net.
The same man could have made it two moments later when a sublime Van der Vaart ball sent the Welshman clear, but this time the Australian stopper was equal to his effort at the near post.
We found ourselves with our backs to the wall a little more in the second half and both Damien Duff and Dempsey went close before we had Dawson to thank for some excellent defending on the hour mark.
Johnson’s shot was well saved by Gomes but the ball trickled towards the goal-line with Dempsey set to pounce. Somehow our skipper made the clearance.
Peter Crouch was introduced soon after to perhaps give us a little more defensively, and the excellent Gallas was ok to continue despite receiving heavy strapping to his thigh midway through the half.
Once the storm had been weathered, we had our own chances to kill the game, with Bale and Dawson both firing over from inside the box with around 15 minutes left.
Fulham mounted another late surge in the final 10 minutes but our defending remained resolute, even though Dempsey was only inches away from connecting with a Dickson Etuhu cross in front of goal.
But on the counter-attack we always looked dangerous with Aaron Lennon, Luka Modric and Crouch all having chances late on.
Spurs (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Hutton (Corluka, 27), Gallas, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart (Jenas, 83); Pavlyuchenko (Crouch, 66)
Subs not used: Pletikosa, Bassong, Sandro, Kranjcar
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Baird; Duff (Gera, 83), Etuhu, Murphy, Davies; Dempsey, A Johnson
Subs not used: Stockdale, Halliche, Salcido, Dikgacoi, Greening, Kamara
Goals: Spurs - Bale 42.
Referee: Mr M Jones.