Fulham – Tottenham was a tight, tense London derby at Craven Cottage and it really was a game of two halves.
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A flowing Spurs counter attack led to the only goal of the game as Gareth Bale, Heung-min Son and Dele Alli combined and a flick from the latter was deflected into his own net by Tosin.
Fulham had a goal cruelly ruled out by VAR in the second half as Spurs held on to make it back-to-back wins. Fulham remain in the relegation zone and are three points from safety with 11 games to go. Tottenham have 42 points and all of a sudden they are back in the top four battle.
Three things we learned from Fulham – Tottenham
1. Front four fire in first half: Mourinho started Bale, Son, Kane and Dele Alli in the first half and it worked. Spurs looked dangerous on the counter and that is because they had extra quality in attack. Bale and Dele Alli faded in the second half, as you would expect, but they made a difference. Harry Kane missed a few chances and Spurs could have sealed the win in the first half. Mourinho will be pleased they kept a clean sheet and this wasn’t a vintage Spurs display, but it was a much needed win in a game they would have drawn a few weeks ago. The front four just gave them enough quality to get over the line.
2. Unlucky Fulham fire another a blank: Scott Parker’s side are so tough to play against and although some may say they have given themselves just too much to do to stay up, they are only three points from safety with 11 games to go. They would have taken that at the start of the season. With a home game on the final day against Newcastle, their nearest relegation rivals, Fulham have to stay in touching distance of those above them and that is the hard bit. They face Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City, Leeds, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Wolves in their next seven games and they probably have to win at least three of those to give themselves a serious chance of staying up. They battled so hard against Spurs and the VAR call against their goal was harsh, but followed the rules, as their lack of firepower looks like it will be costly.
3. VAR gets it right but rule change coming up: When IFAB meet to look at the rulings, it is clear the handball rule will be looked at. That won’t help Fulham, as they were harshly penalized for Davinson Sanchez smashing the ball against the arm of Mario Lemina and the ball broke to Josh Maja who finished. It was a harsh call but under the current rules, any handball from an attacking player which leads to a goal has to be ruled out regardless of the hand being in an unnatural or natural position. More changes will be coming up for next season and the handball rule will be at the center of it.
Man of the Match: Toby Alderweireld – Returned to the lineup and held Spurs’ defense together as Fulham pinned them back in the second half. Showed all of his experience.
Fulham were bright early on as Ademola Lookman popped up in dangerous areas.
USMNT left back Antonee Robinson caused Tottenham problems too, but Spurs’ attacking quintet of Bale, Son, Kane, Dele Alli and Ndombele then got going.
Son crossed for Kane who headed straight at Alphonse Areola, then moments later Bale started a counter as he fed Son who crossed for Dele to flick towards goal and the ball hit Tosin and went in to give Tottenham the lead.
Right on half time, Mario Lemina fired over from a great position and that was a sign of things to come.
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In the second half Fulham were dangerous from set piece situations as Hugo Lloris had to be alert as Joachim Andersen and Tosin both went close.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek fired over and Lemina was denied by Lloris, and then it seemed like Maja equalized with a fine low finish but VAR ruled out the goal for a handball on Lemina after Davinson Sanchez fired the ball straight at him from close range.
The Cottagers dominated the second half but couldn’t find a way through as Aleksandar Mitrovic went close but Spurs held on for all three points as Kane and Lucas Moura went close to doubling their lead.