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Hard-earned victory at Craven Cottage - match report and debrief

Fulham 0-1 Spurs

Thu 04 March 2021, 20:04|Tottenham Hotspur

A battling display at Craven Cottage yielded three points as we edged past Fulham in a tough London derby on Thursday evening.

The match was decided by a solitary goal, awarded as an own goal by Fulham’s centre-half Tosin Adarabioyo after he got the final touch to Dele Alli’s effort in the 19th minute and although we didn’t move up from eighth place in the table, we did close the gap to just four points on fourth-placed Everton.

After a fairly even start to the game, we stepped up the pace just after the 15-minute mark, Gareth Bale firing a free-kick over the crossbar and Harry Kane heading straight at Alphonse Areola from Heung-Min Son’s excellent cross before our pressure told and we took the lead. Dele sent the ball wide to Son, who attacked Ola Aina down his outside and delivered a cross which Dele flicked towards goal, the ball coming off Adarabioyo and going in.

Fulham’s best chance of the half came in stoppage time when Mario Lemina blazed over from 15 yards and they started the second half brightly, Hugo Lloris saving from Adarabioyo’s header and Lemina’s low drive. We then had a lucky escape in the 62nd minute when Fulham had a goal disallowed for hand-ball, Davinson Sanchez’s attempted clearance hitting Lemina and Josh Maja firing into the bottom corner, but the ball struck Lemina on his arm and, even though it was by his side, VAR ruled out the goal.

We were on the back foot at that stage as the Cottagers went in search of an equaliser but we were just about managing to keep them at bay and had a great chance to wrap up the points in the 83rd minute when substitute Erik Lamela threaded a lovely ball in for Kane but Areola was out quickly to smother his shot. The hosts applied more pressure in the closing stages without really troubling Lloris and we held out for another win, another three points and another clean sheet.

Result keeps momentum going

After recent home victories over Wolfsberger AC and Burnley, this felt like an important game as we looked to keep up that winning sequence against a Fulham side which has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the last few weeks.

With a management team of Scott Parker, Matt Wells and goalkeeping coach Rob Burch, who all had coaching roles within our Academy before moving to Craven Cottage, Fulham knew a win would take them out of the relegation zone and so there was plenty up for grabs on the banks of the River Thames.

We fielded a front four that had our supporters excited as kick-off approached – Bale, Dele and Son playing in a three behind Kane up top and the quartet were involved in all of our good chances in the opening half hour. Bale would have been disappointed with his free-kick which sailed over the bar and Kane likewise as he sent his header straight at the Fulham goalkeeper after Son’s wonderful cross with the outside of his right boot.

The goal came from a swift break with Dele getting a good touch on Son’s low ball in from the left, his effort probably going to hit the woodwork but Adarabioyo’s touch sent the ball inside the post to give us a deserved lead. Son then curled just wide on 29 minutes and we were well on top, but the home side so nearly grabbed an equaliser in stoppage time before the break when Antonee Robinson’s good work down their left led to a chance for Lemina but he was well over with his drive.

Seven minutes after the interval, Joachim Andersen’s header from Ivan Cavaliero’s free-kick might have been creeping in so Lloris was forced to tip it over the bar and from the corner, Adarabioyo got a good connection with his header which Lloris gathered on his goal-line.

And just moments after Lloris made a smart save low down to his left to deny Lemina, Fulham thought they’d scored when Maja swept home, but a close inspection of the build up by VAR revealed a hand-ball by Lemina and our lead remained intact. We managed to steady the ship as Fulham’s pressure ran out of steam slightly and had the best chance of the second half when Kane was thwarted by Areola seven minutes from time, but it wasn’t a vital miss as we managed to maintain that winning sequence.

Form holds up against Cottagers

We have certainly enjoyed the better of our Premier League encounters against Fulham and that continued at Craven Cottage on Thursday. The result means we have now picked up 11 wins from our last 13 top-flight meetings against them, conceding just eight goals and never more than once in a match.

Our team news saw Jose Mourinho make three changes to the team that started against Burnley on Sunday. Our full-backs were switched, so Matt Doherty and Ben Davies came in for Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilon, while Dele was back for his second Premier League start of the season in place of Lucas Moura.

Reaction on Spurs TV

'Three important points... the boys did well'

Jose told Spurs TV: "Three important points, we should, we could, we played enough to kill the game, especially in the first half, but we didn’t. Then we knew the second half would always be hard, but when they had their reaction, we were solid. We did okay. Then, I believe, the three changes brought the energy and the qualities the team needed at that time. Lucas controlled Bryan well, Lamela playing with Harry through the middle and bringing the ball to zones and also creating, and getting free-kicks through his intensity, Moussa gave us that strength we needed at that time too. So, as a team, the boys did well."

Fulham 0-1 Spurs

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Areola, Aina, Andersen (c), Adarabioyo, Robinson (Bryan 75), Lemina, Reed, Lookman, Loftus-Cheek (Zambo Anguissa 64), Cavaleiro (Mitrovic 71), Maja. Substitutes (not used): Fabri, Tete, Ream, Decordova-Reid, Onomah, Kongolo.

Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Doherty, Alderwerield, Sanchez, Davies, Hojbjerg, Ndombele (Lamela 75), Bale (Lucas 67), Dele (Sissoko 67), Son, Kane. Substitutes (not used): Hart, Tanganga, Dier, Reguilon, Winks, Vinicius.

Match data

Goal: Spurs – Adarabioyo (OG) 19.

Yellow cards: Fulham – Lookman, Reed; Spurs - Bale.

Referee: David Coote.

Venue: Craven Cottage, Fulham.

Weather: Light cloud, gentle breeze, three degrees.