Jermain Defoe scored twice in the second half against Fulham at Craven Cottage as Tottenham recorded their third Premier League win in seven days. After Sandro had put Spurs ahead after 56 minutes in a lacklustre match, Defoe scored twice as Spurs recorded their third successive League win at Craven Cottage to move into 4th place, level on points with Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion who both lost today. Spurs managed to keep their second clean sheet of the season but worryingly for Andre Villas-Boas, both Michael Dawson and Gareth Bale had to go off with hamstring injuries.
Fulham 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3
Scorers: Sandro, Defoe (2)
Team: Lloris; Naughton, Dawson (Gallas), Caulker, Vertonghen; Sandro, Dembele (Carroll); Lennnon, Dempsey, Bale (Sigurdsson); Defoe Subs: (unused) Friedel, Walker, Livermore, Falque
The Tottenham team showed two changes from the side which defeated Liverpool in midweek – Kyle Naughton replaced Kyle Walker at right back and Steven Caulker returned in central defence in place of William Gallas. With the press full of comments during the week over Clint Dempsey’s departure from Fulham in the summer, it had been anticipated that the match would have a touch of passion and effort from both sides but this wasn’t the case. In a strangely subdued atmosphere for a London derby at Craven Cottage, the home fans did manage to boo Dempsey every time he touched the ball but even that seemed half-hearted.
Fulham threatened first when Dimitar Berbatov played the ball in but Hugo Lloris claimed it at the edge of his area. Then, after five minutes, Defoe played the ball to Dempsey on the edge of the area. He turned his defender but shot past from a good position. Spurs had the early control but as Fulham came more into the game most of their success came through Berbatov with delightful flicks and touches but they didn’t cause Lloris any problems.
Dawson was the first to succumb to injury having to be replaced after seventeen minutes with Gallas coming on. The game which had been picking up a little momentum prior to this, went quiet again. Dempsey lifted a ball over the Fulham back line for the advancing Sandro but he committed a foul in trying to reach the ball after a heavy first touch. Midway through the half Bale was booked for diving for the second successive game and then Lloris made a good save from Petric from a cross from the left. A shot by Dempsey went across goal and wide.
The play by Berbatov was the one bright spot in a disappointing game as he pulled the strings for Fulham rom a deep lying position. Former Tottenham full back, Stephen Kelly, came on for Fulham as Spurs continued their patient passing but without causing any threat. A break through the middle by Aaron Lennon ended when his pass for Defoe was too long and collected safely by the goalkeeper. Fulham won their first corner with five minutes of the half remaining and then Petric turned well but shot over. In the final minutes of the half, a run by Lennon was stopped by Kelly and then good work by Jan Vertonghen enabled Lennon to pass across the area to Bale but his shot was high. Defoe had his first shot of the game but it was saved easily by the goalkeeper.
In a pedestrian half, neither team showed any ambition or the inclination to commit players forward.
At the start of the second half, Sandro was caught in possession but Sidwell shot wide from a good position. Fulham were much quicker to the ball and tried to press Spurs in midfield. Lloris made a good save as Fulham broke clear but Fulham were adjudged to be offside. Lennon and Defoe worked well on the right but Defoe’s cross towards Dempsey was headed clear. Sandro then claimed the ball in midfield and sent in a speculative shot from 35 yards which bounced in front of Schwarzer and into the net. Spurs had claimed an unexpected lead with ten minutes played through Sandro’s second goal for the club.
Four minutes later, Spurs broke quickly through Defoe who played the ball to Bale and his powerful shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. Bale immediately pulled up and had to go off to be replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson. Spurs contained Fulham well but a pass by Berbatov to Duff on the right, gave him a chance to cross but it was headed over. On 72 minutes, good work on the left enabled Sigurdsson to get forward into the area and he played the ball to Defoe who beat Schwarzer from the edge of the box. Spurs had the comfort a second with eighteen minutes to play.
Two goals in five minutes for Jermain Defoe after Dempsey played him in, beating offside, to pass the ball into the net from the edge of the box. Spurs now had the margin they needed and saw out the game confidently with few alarms. Sigurdsson had a shot saved while Lloris saved a header by Rodallega. Tottenham claimed the three points with the bonus of a clean sheet.
A match that one might have expected to be feisty, lacked the passion of a derby game and went Tottenham’s way in the second half with Sandro’s goal from nowhere. Defoe did what he does best and scored twice to give Tottenham a very comfortable victory in a rather mediocre match – but it’s the result that counts and Spurs could do no more that accept another three points.