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Fulham v Spurs, 04.03.21


Tosin (o.g.), 19

Attendance:- 0

Referee:- David Coote
Assistants:- Dan Cook, Nick Hopton
Fourth official:- Peter Bankes
VAR:- Jarred Gillett
Assistant VAR:- Peter Kirkup

Fulham (4-2-3-1):- Areola; Aina, Andersen (Capt.), Tosin, Robinson (sub Bryan, 75); Lemina, Reed; Cavaleiro (sub Mitrovic, 71), Loftus-Cheek (sub Anguissa, 64), Lookman; Maja

Subs not used:- Fabri; Tete, Ream; Decordova-Reid, Onomah; Kongolo

Booked:- Lookman (foul on Doherty), Reed (foul on Kane)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Doherty, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Ndombele (sub Lamela, 75), Hojbjerg; Bale (sub Lucas Moura, 67), Dele (sub Sissoko, 67), Son; Kane

Subs not used:- Hart; Reguilon, Dier, Tanganga; Winks; Vinicius

Booked:- Bale (foul on Loftus-Cheek)

Lloris’s 101st clean sheet was not easy

Hugo Lloris's 101st Premier league clean sheet was not as easy as the 100th had been in Sunday's 4-0 win over Burnley. In fact, it looked as if Fulham had equalised in the 62nd minute through recent loan signing Josh Maja, who so far has only scored two away goals for his new team. Referee David Coote had signalled a goal, but VAR intervened and came to Spurs' rescue finding a handball that led to the goal by Lemina before the ball reached Maja.

This 101st clean sheet from Hugo had not been as easy as his second in the Premier League back in December 2012 which had also been against Fulham. We won 3-0 that day. Gareth Bale had been in the starting line-up then, as he was tonight. Had Fulham managed a draw tonight, as they did at Tottenham in January it would not have been undeserved.

Many Spurs fans got their wish in seeing the “Fab Four” of Bale, Dele, Son and Kane start the game. There were times in the first half (and our goal was an example) when we saw the benefit of that combination. However, in order to preserve our slender lead, Jose had to take Bale and Dele off three-quarters of the way through the game. Whilst Fulham bossed the second half possession and played some attractive approach football, they ultimately paid for a lack of killer touch, which has been their problem all season. A win would have taken them out of the bottom three. They must fight on for survival. With two successive wins (the first in the Premier League since November) Spurs have put themselves back in the chase for a top four place with last night’s results in our favour. That chase will go on too.

Jose Mourinho switched his full backs and maybe would have benefited from more pace in this area, but Sanchez and Alderweireld held their places, as did Ndombele and Hojbjerg in front of them. Aurier, Rodon and Bergwijn were absent even from the 9-man bench.

The teams were turned around before kick-off in contravention of the traditional arrangement. Fulham kicked off, but Spurs played towards the Putney End. After Ndombele lost possession in the middle, Loftus-Cheek carried the ball forward to the Spurs area after only one minute, but his attempted pass was poor and Spurs cleared easily. More good approach play by Fulham led to Robinson having a shot on goal, but it was a poor effort. Lookman had a half chance on the left of the area, but Lloris picked up his cross. Robinson advanced down the left channel and fed the ball to Lookman who failed with his intended pass.

Finally Spurs managed to get a foot on the ball and created a good chance when Son crossed from the right and Bale had a shot well saved by Areola, but our number 9 had been offside in any case. There had been a challenge by Dele on Lemina in the build-up to this move. Referee David Coote saw no foul and Lemina was not impressed by this. Mr. Coote is another referee who tries to let the game flow, which worked to our advantage several times.

Ndombele advanced and was fouled 25 yards out by Tosin. Bale hit the free kick well over the target. Harry Kane sent a good ball to Son on the left. “Sonny” found Kane with a good cross, but “one of our own” did not get enough power or the right direction on his header which went straight into Areola’s arms.

Spurs took the lead soon after in the 19th minute, following a good ball forward by Bale. Dele, in a central position fed that ball out to Son to his left, then ran forward to receive Son’s low cross. It looked as if Dele had cleverly flicked the ball into the net, but the goal was adjudicated to be an own goal by Tosin. Nonetheless it was a good goal for Spurs.

Bale was instrumental in our next attack, winning a header deep down the right flank, and hitting the ball inside to Kane who hit a lovely ball to Son lurking to the left of the Fulham area. “Sonny” hit a right-footed shot wide of the far post. Dele intercepted an intended clearance and passed forward to Kane whose left foot shot was well blocked.

Ndombele was fouled 25 yards out after another strong advance. He took a quick free kick and passed to Kane who went down inside the box, but got no joy out of the referee or VAR. There was some clever interaction between Dele and Bale on the right of the area before Dele lifted a ball to Son, whose header was comfortably held by Areola.

We were looking for that second goal to put us in a comfortable position, but Doherty hit a poor cross after decent approach play by Kane and Dele. Then we had a fright in added time when Robinson made a run into the area avoiding three challenges, passing to Maja who fed the ball back to Lemina whose shot was way over.

More pressure by the home side and frights for the Spurs defence (and the fans at home) would follow. After a foul by Dele on Loftus-Cheek the free kick was sent in from the left and Lloris felt it necessary to tip over Andersen’s header, although the ball was probably going over the bar anyway. Lookman gave us more to worry about inside the box, but Spurs cleared well. Another Fulham attack followed a failed pass by Harry Kane intended for Bale.

Ndombele was fouled about 30 yards out and Bale tried a shot, but this was blocked. Kane lifted a nice ball into the box for Dele, but Areola got to the ball first. An hour had gone now and Alderweireld was required to defend well against Loftus-Cheek before Lookman cut thee ball back for Loftus-Cheek who fired over this time. Lloris made a good close-range save from Loftus-Cheek after Cavaleiro crossed from the right.

It looked as if Fulham had got a deserved equaliser in the 62nd minute. The “goal” had been scored by Maja after the ball had been bounced from player to player within the box. Sanchez had tried to clear and hit thee ball against Lemina’s arm after which the ball had reached Maja. The referee signalled a goal, but current rules gave VAR no option but to disallow the goal as a handball (accidental or not) had led to the goal. (Think Lucas Moura at Bramall Lane last summer before a Harry Kane disallowed goal)

Fulham had a couple of corners which came to nought before Sissoko and Lucas Moura came on, after which Spurs firstly seemed to manage the game better, and at times got forward again. Ndombele moved forward with Sissoko taking up the space next to Hojbjerg. We did have our backs to the wall again. A long ball by Andersen reached Lookman who crossed from the left. A Spurs defender headed the ball upward and Hugo was able to catch it.

Now Lamela came on for Ndombele, giving us extra energy and zest going forward. After a throw on the right, Erik made a great little run along the bye-line and tried to reach Kane with his short cross, but Fulham managed to clear. Sissoko ran forward before passing forward to Lamela who teed up Kane. His shot was saved and the attempted follow-up by Lucas Moura was of target.

Anguissa had replaced Loftus-Cheek and he passed short to Lookman on the left of the area. Lookman tried to find another substitute – Mitrovic – with his low cross, but Hugo picked up. Mitrovic crossed from the right and Doherty had to pout the ball out for a corner just the right side of the far post. Hugo held the corner.

Spurs “managed” the four minutes of added time proficiently, securing only their second London Derby win of the season in eight such games. More importantly they secured the three points. Another win on Sunday evening against Crystal Palace would put us in the mix for Europe with Everton playing Chelsea on Monday night and West Ham also not playing till Monday.

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