Tottenham Hotspur picked up its second league win in a row on Thursday, but almost by the skin of its teeth as the team beat Fulham 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
José Mourinho opted for a little bit of rotation from Sunday’s 4-0 win against Burnley, opting to play Matt Doherty and Ben Davies in the fullback positions and, more notably, giving Dele his first Premier League start of the season. Gareth Bale returned to the lineup after a strong display against Burnley, working with Son Heung-min and Harry Kane in attack.
Fulham came out strongly, dominating possession and doing the work of limiting Spurs’ ability to go forward. That rhythm was short-lived, and Spurs recorded a first meaningful shot when Kane missed a header from close range after a brilliant pass from Son. Spurs, though, would soon get a reward.
Just two minutes later, Spurs were on the board. Son had the ball on the left side of the box and sent it towards Dele, who shot with the side of his foot. His shot, though, then hit defender Tosin Adarabioyo before ending up in the back of the net.
Fulham maintained a possession advantage for the rest of the first half, but continued to struggle to keep Spurs away from goal. The visitors almost had a chance to score a second when Ola Aina fouled Kane in the penalty area in the 36th minute, but after video review the penalty was not given.
Fulham came into the second half determined for an equalizer, but spent the early part of it squandering opportunities. After about 15 minutes, though, they found a rhythm and began to truly threaten Spurs’ goal, forcing Hugo Lloris into after spending much of the first 60 minutes with little to do.
Fulham seemingly found an equalizer in the 62nd minute when Josh Maja put the ball in the back of the net. However, referee Coote called a handball on Mario Lemina and took the goal back, but added another example of annoyance over the handball rule.
From that point on, the two sides traded meaningful spells of possession and shots, particularly as the match reached its closing stages. Tottenham looked close to doubling its lead through two Kane chances, but neither side could add another goal to the game despite their many attempts.
Thoughts on the Match
- This game might be remembered for calls that several found irritating. The foul on Kane in the first half seemed like it could have led to a legitimate penalty, but the big one is the handball on Lemina in the second half. It’s not that the refereeing team got the call wrong — the issue people will take with it is the way handballs are currently defined.
- Tottenham deserve the win in a lot of ways, though Fulham never felt too far from equalizing. There were some moments when Spurs truly struggled, most notably at the start of the match and midway through the second half. In the end, the scoreline feels fairly reflective of a tight match.
- Dele was the standout for Spurs in his first league start this season, and one can hope his icing out is truly over because he very obviously is a great option in attack. As for other players, I felt Son, Tanguy Ndombele, and Davinson Sánchez managed moments of brilliance against Fulham.