In a wild, physical and entertaining match at Craven Cottage, Tottenham Hotspur got a late winner in stoppage time to steal all three points by the final score of 2-1.
The first ten minutes saw Tottenham settle in quick and earn a couple of opportunities that were ultimately wasted. Fulham seemed happy to set up for the counter attack after getting one early chance. The first real opportunity for a goal was from Fulham’s newly acquired Ryan Babel, purchased this week from Besiktas. The former Liverpool man took advantage of a mistake by Davinson Sanchez and found himself in. Hugo Lloris challenged Babel and managed to parry the shot out to touch.
Ultimately, Fulham struck first. After earning a corner kick, Jean-Michael Seri played the ball into the six yard box. Fernando Llorente, starting for the injured Harry Kane, attempted to clear the ball. Unfortunately his touch was right on net, leaving Hugo standing for an own goal. Fulham had the lead just under twenty minutes into the match and almost immediately went into a defensive formation. If Spurs were going to pull three points, they now had to do it against a side happy to play eleven behind the ball.
Spurs pushed forward in attack after giving up the own goal. They had a great chance in the 23rd minute as Jan Vertonghen played a fabulous cross into the penalty area and found Llorente. The headed effort was on net but was an easy save for Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico.
Fulham handled Spurs’ press enough to keep them at bay, even with some hairy moments for the Cottagers. After breaking a very high press, Fulham had another chance in the 40th minute as a cross in for Babel found its target, but the headed effort was too high and went over the crossbar for a goal kick. The Cottagers shrugged it off and pushed up on a counterattack in the next minute. A cross played in for former Chelsea winger Andre Schurrle was inch perfect, giving the German International a volley attempt that was saved by Hugo. Aleksandar Mitrovic buried the rebound to make it 2-0, but the offside flag was up and saved Tottenham from a disastrous end to the first half.
Whatever Pochettino said to the team at half worked. Spurs jumped out quickly in attack and, after a couple of missed opportunities, got their equalizer in the 52nd minute. Christian Eriksen played a beautiful cross far post into the penalty area for a streaking Dele Alli. The English International coolly headed the ball home into the net and it was game on.
The pace of the match heated up after the equalizer. Tempers flared a bit between Davinson Sanchez and Aleksandar Mitrovic, though Mitrovic seemed to direct his frustration more at the officiating than anything. After things settled down, Danny Rose had an opportunity to get the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute, making a wonderful run with the ball to about 15 yards out. Only a deflection on his curled attempt kept the ball out of net, bouncing off the crossbar and out to touch.
Spurs continued to dominate the play, and while there looked to be goals in this match yet to be scored, it seemed that either side could pull out the full three points. Fulham made a couple of tactical changes, bringing on Ryan Sessegnon and Neeskens Kabano, swapping out a gassed Ryan Babel and Andre Schurrle. Immediately after, Sanchez and Mitrovic finally had their tempers flare against each other with the Fulham striker attempting to give Sanchez a Jake Roberts’ DDT. For whatever reason, Sanchez got a yellow card along with Mitrovic, even though every replay showed Sanchez didn’t do anything wrong.
Spurs had a big chance in the 82nd minute. After Danny Rose was incredulously booked for simulation when he was fouled, he earned a free kick not long after. The set piece cross found Llorente, but it barely glanced off of his head and went out to touch when it probably should have found the net. A few moments after the missed header, Dele Alli was injured fighting for a ball near the sideline. The replay showed he grabbed his hamstring before hitting the ground near the advertisements, ending his day and adding to the already long infirmary list. Georges Kevin N’Koudou came on for Dele to try and push for the winning goal.
The 90th minute saw a half chance/penalty shout for Spurs as Trippier played a great header in for Llorente. It wasn’t a great touch by the striker and, coupling that with some grabbing at the shoulder, it could have been a penalty. In the end, the ball went out to touch for a goal kick. It looked like Spurs were headed for their first draw of the season.
Instead, a phoenix rose up from the dying embers of the match for Tottenham Hotspur. Breaking on the absolute last chance of the match, Rose fed N’Koudou on left flank, who played a brilliant cross into the box with streaking attackers. Harry Winks, who had a fantastic match even before this moment, buried the winner into the net. The away end exploded in joy as the Tottenham Academy graduate dove into the first row to celebrate as his teammates mobbed him. Somehow, Spurs had all three points on a night that it looked like anything else was going to be the end result.
Thoughts on the match
- That sound of clicking keys you heard was me deleting half of my match report after Winks buried that winner. Not even mad.
- This was such an up and down match. Spurs looked like garbage for a lot of this match, but dominated the second half.
- Craig Pawson needs to be demoted to the Championship, at minimum. Mitrovic and Seri both should have been sent off. When you’re doing WWE moves on players and two footed tackles, at some point you need to realize you’re the referee and take charge. He didn’t. Fire him out of a cannon into the sun.
- Llorente was terrible. Charles Barkley turrible. He and Dele spent the first half of the match trying to figure out who was supposed to go where and his hold up play was garbage.
- Dele is definitely out with a hamstring pull/tear/explosion. No idea how bad it is, but his reaction on the bench looked about as bad as it could get.
- Tip of the cap to Georges Kevin N’Koudou. His time in north London hasn’t gone the way he hoped, but he provided a brilliant ball for the winner.
- Hugo was his usual self. He made some key saves and also had a couple of bad pieces of distribution. There was nothing he could do against the own goal.
- Everyone exhale. Three points are three points.