SUNDAY 20th JANUARY, 2019
FULHAM 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0)
Llorente (o.g), 17
Winks, 90 (+3)
Referee:- Craig Pawson
Assistants:- Ian Hussin & Eddie Smart
Fourth official:- Lee Probert
Fulham (3-4-3):- Rico; Odoi, Le Marchand, Ream; Christie, Seri (sub Cisse, 81), Chambers, Bryan; Schurrle (sub Kebano, 72), Mitrovic (Capt.), Babel (sub Sessegnon, 55)
Subs not used:- Bettinelli; Cairney, Ayite, Vietto
Booked:- Mitrovic (Unsporting conduct), Seri (foul on Vertonghen)
Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Trippier, Eriksen, Winks, Rose; Lamela (sub Dier, 79), Llorente, Dele (sub Nkoudou, 86)
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Foyth, Davies; Skipp; Sterling
Booked:- Sanchez (Unsporting conduct), Rose (simulation), Alderweireld (celebration?)
Another "One of our own" wins it for Spurs!
There were times when it looked as if we might fall foul of a banana skin result with Fulham having taken an early lead in this game thanks to an involuntary own goal by Llorente. After Dele Alli equalised, and as the game was drawing to a close, it looked as if Fulham would get what you would have to say would have been a deserved draw. Then, almost with the very last action of this game, another "one of our own" - Harry Winks - who had started this last throw of the dice move - had the run on his tracker and at a 45% degree angle dived forward to head home Georges-Kevin Nkoudou's cross for a late, late winner.
Yes, that was Nkoudou, who was a late substitution for the injured Dele Alli, who provided an excellent right footed cross from the left flank for his only Premier League assist of the season. Incidentally, that's as many as have been offered by Anthony Martial and Sadio Mane. It was Nkoudou's first Premier League appearance of the season.
As is very well known, Spurs are on their "uppers" when it comes to manpower for selection with Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko and Lucas Moura injured, and Son on International duty with South Korea. Eric Dier did make it to the bench, and his late insertion does at least suggest that he will start next Thursday's Carabao Cup game at Chelsea.
Mauricio Pochettino went for a 3-4-3 formation with Sanchez between Alderweireld and Vertonghen. Christian Eriksen played beside Harry Winks, with Erik Lamela and Dele Alli either side of Fernando Llorente, who was making his first Premier League start of the season.
Claudio Ranieri matched the Spurs formation, although perhaps Fulham played with five at the back when defending. That didn't happen much in the first 20 minutes. Craven Cottage had ramped up the pre-match atmosphere with great noise to drown out the away support, and when the game started the home side played like a team much higher than 19th in the Premier League. Led by Mitrovic and recent signing Ryan Babel, Fulham offered genuine pressure to Spurs, winning a succession of corners, and ultimately taking what you had to admit was a deserved lead, albeit through an own goal.
As for Spurs, they were so slow playing out from the back that Fulham simply pressed them in their own half, and frustrated their efforts when going forward, getting their men behind the ball. Spurs had a big man in the middle (Llorente) but were reluctant to offer him high balls. Llorente has lacked minutes throughout the season, and too often, when he was offered the ball, failed to make best use of it.
Spurs had to defend an early free kick with Mitrovic threatening. The former Newcastle man was a handful for Davinson Sanchez throughout the game, and they had a contretemps in the second half which led to each of them being booked.
Danny Rose was getting forward and trying to penetrate the Fulham barrier, and was fouled early on, but Eriksen's free kick was poor, failing to beat the first man. Eriksen soon had another chance, receiving from the right, but pulled his shot quite woefully wide.
Spurs had a good break down the left with Danny Rose sending Lamela away. The ball was switched to the right for Trippier, who passed inside to Eriksen, whose shot was half blocked and won a corner.
Babel got goal side of Sanchez after 11 minutes and Hugo Lloris made a great save to his right, when a goal looked likely. From the resulting corner Odoi miscued his attempt on goal. Danny Rose was fouled again and Trippier took this free kick with goalkeeper Sergio Rico holding above his head on the goal-line.
Fulham came back with a couple of corners, and it looked to me like the one which led to Llorente's own goal was taken from outside the quadrant, but the goal counted, not that Llorente wanted anything to do with it, of course.
Dele passed inside from the left to Eiksen, who fed the ball to Lamela on the right. Lamela's cross/shot passed harmlessly across the area. Llorente brought a reaction save at close range by Rico following a cross by Vertonghen. Eriksen took a free kick from the left side which was half blocked and simply rolled to the Fulham keeper.
Babel, who has recently been playing his football in Turkey, having once played for Liverpool, headed over the bar from a cross by Christie. Soon after that, Babel crossed from the left and Schurrle returned the ball from the right with a shot that was parried by Lloris. Mitrovic followed up and hit the net, but then put his hands to his face Edvard Munch "Scream" style when he saw the offside flag.
Mauricio Pochettino must have delivered a proverbial rocket up the backside because Spurs did come out with more attacking desire in the second half. They were rewarded when Fulham failed to properly clear and Eriksen was virtually gifted the ball on the right of the area, returning a lofted cross for Dele Alli to head home.
Fulham fans were after a penalty at the other end, but referee Craig Pawson had no interest. Like him or not, Spurs have now won their last six games with him in charge, and this was our fourth away win of the season with him in the middle.
Harry Winks had a shot held by Sergio Rico after Dele's pass, and then Eriksen had a shot blocked, after Llorente had teed him up. Spurs moved the ball from right to left via Trippier and Lamela, before Danny Rose came inside and hit a right footed shot which was deflected onto the bar and over for a Spurs corner. Lamela took this corner and the ball came back to him out on the right, but he fired the ball wide across the goalmouth.
Andre Schurrrle was replaced by Kebano after 72 minutes, and then we had the scene between Sanchez and Mitrovic. Sanchez seemed to be more the victim here, but the referee showed both players a yellow card, which he also showed to Seri for bringing down Jan Vertonghen. Vertonghen took a knock, but carried on. Jan had made a great late first half saving tackle on Babel, and had a solid game.
Lamela was replaced by Dier, and this enabled Eriksen to move further forward, whilst Dier and Winks took it in turns to also get forward. By now, Fulham were seeking to hold onto their point, forming a defensive dome that Spurs struggled to penetrate.
Danny Rose was shown yellow for alleged simulation just inside the area, but he may have been unlucky here. Mr. Pawson had not been looking earlier when I thought Rose might have been fouled inside the box. Danny was genuinely fouled again out on the left, and took the free kick himself. The ball reached Llorente at the back post, but he glanced his header wide when scoring might have been easier.
Dele Alli went down injured off the pitch, having over-stretched in a touch line challenge. It was a while before play allowed him to be replaced, and it was Nkoudou who got the job, working down the left flank.
Llorente went down in the area after Trippier headed a ball back into the danger zone, but nothing was given. Llorente had another chance as we entered added time following a Trippier cross, but the striker hit the ball straight at the keeper, with the whole goal to aim at.
Then came the last roll of the dice drama. Winks had started a move with the ball reaching Nkoudou on the left. Nkoudou cut back and hit a strong arrowed cross which Winks reached with his body stretched to the full for another last ditch winner. Remember, Winks' only other goal had been against West Ham, and before Christmas Christian Eriksen had given us a win "at the death" against Burnley.
Fulham had no way back after the goal. There was only time for the kick off and for Lloris to take his time with a clearance before we heard the final whistle and witnessed glorious scenes in the Spurs end. Thus Spurs have consolidated their third place, and sit four points above Chelsea and seven above Arsenal and Manchester United. Our next three league games are at home. The only question is who will we have fit to play?
The immediate priority is next Thursday's Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge when team selection will be another challenge for Pochettino.
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