Kaboul (og) 57 – Baird (og) 19, Lennon 45 +1, Defoe 90 +4
Sometimes life just isn’t fair, you do everything right and somebody else gets the rewards. So it was for Fulham who were brilliant in the second-half against Tottenham Hotspur yet have nothing to show for their efforts.
Martin Jol, in his first game against Spurs since he was unceremoniously dumped by them in 2007, will have to wait a little longer for revenge against his former employers who have now won seven of their last eight in the league.
In years to come the score line will tell one story but the reality was very different. Fulham had 23 shots to the visitors’ six. They had 11 corners to Tottenham’s one. That Spurs took all three points was due in the main to a man of the match performance from goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who made a string of excellent saves starting with a point-blank stop in the second minute from Steve Sidwell.
Jol had clearly briefed his side to take the game to Spurs in the opening stages but it was Tottenham who took the lead. Mark Schwarzer could only parry Aaron Lennon’s cross-cum-shot into the path of Gareth Bale who fizzed the ball back across goal where it took a deflection of the hapless Chris Baird.
With the clock ticking down ahead of the break Lennon grabbed a wonderful goal. After a cute one-two with Bale on the left he sped into the area, making a fool of Baird before striking home low and hard with his left foot.
Things got worse for Fulham with an injury to Zdenek Grygera which saw him stretchered off after he twisted his knee in an innocuous looking challenge from Bale. At that stage a healthy Spurs win would not have been a surprise.
However, Fulham came out in the second-half with the bit between their teeth and got a lucky break after 57 minutes. Ledley King attempted to clear Danny Murphy’s cross but only succeeded in heading it against Younes Kaboul’s back and it deflected into the net.
That gave the home side much needed impetus but try as they might they couldn’t find away past the excellent Friedel, who didn’t look like the oldest player in the Premier League on this evidence.
Two minutes into injury time Fulham looked to have levelled but, following a goal line scramble, the ball went out for a corner. Friedel the finished as he started the game with a point-blank save from Hangeland’s header. Jermain Defoe added a late third.
Spurs are now level with Chelsea but have a game in hand as their opener against Everton was postponed due to August’s riots. They’ve played some great football this season but the sign of a really good team is winning when you don’t like they did today.
The flip side of that coin, of course is losing when you play well, something Jol will be all too aware of with his side now just one point off the relegation zone.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Grygera (Kelly 46), Baird, Hangeland, Riise; Duff (Ruiz 71), Murphy (Etuhu 77), Sidwell, Dempsey; Dembele, Zamora
Tottenham (4-4-1-1): Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Sandro 78), Modric, Parker, Bale; Van der Vaart (Defoe 65); Adebayor
Did you know… Fulham have won just once at home in the league this season – 6-0 against QPR.
Check out the Euro 2012 odds and get some tips on the European Championships betting.