Friday, February 17, 2017

Fulham Vs Tottenham Hotspur 0-3


Fulham went down 3-0 to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon at a bitterly cold Craven Cottage.
After a goalless first half, Spurs were clinical in the second period as Sandro’s 35-yard strike and Jermain Defoe’s brace meant our London rivals left with the three points.
It means Fulham’s winless run extends to seven matches, although the contest was not as one-sided as the scoreline suggests.
Martin Jol handed Kerim Frei a first start of the season following the teenager’s impressive midweek cameo at Stamford Bridge, while Mladen Petrić and Ashkan Dejagah were also given starting berths.
Giorgos Karagounis, Damien Duff and Hugo Rodallega dropped to the bench, and Spurs included former Fulham favourites Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele in their starting XI.
A delightful piece of skill from Dimitar Berbatov saw the Bulgarian find space on the left flank before bending a ball in towards the advancing Steve Sidwell. Michael Dawson missed the interception but keeper Hugo Lloris smothered quickly to prevent our number seven from getting a shot away.
Spurs responded with a neat break that culminated in Dempsey turning well in the box, but the American sent his left-footed shot wide of the post on six minutes.
The best chance of the game fell to Frei on 12 minutes. Berbatov and Dejagah linked beautifully down the right and the Iran international’s cross dropped kindly to Frei just inside the area but the 19-year-old leaned back and smashed his shot high and wide.
The away side were dealt a blow minutes later when Michael Dawson pulled up after falling awkwardly following an earlier clearance. The visiting captain was replaced by former Chelsea centre-back William Gallas.
The Fulham fans were incensed on 23 minutes when Gareth Bale threw himself to the floor despite not making contact with anyone in a white shirt. He was rewarded with a yellow card for simulation – not for the first time this season.
And a minute later the home side went within a whisker of taking the lead. A dangerous low cross was whipped in by John Arne Riise but Lloris made himself big to keep out Petric’s poked effort at the near post. Spurs responded with another Dempsey effort which sailed wide of Mark Schwarzer’s post, despite being well struck.
Fulham were dealt an injury blow of their own when the ever-present Sascha Riether had to be withdrawn just before the half-hour mark. Former White Hart Lane resident Stephen Kelly replaced the German.
Good hold-up work from Berbatov on 43 minutes allowed him to bring Sidwell into play who laid the ball off to Mahamadou Diarra. The Mali international fed a ball into Petric who span exquisitely before firing a yard or two high of the crossbar.
The match had turned into an enthralling encounter and Bale was next to fire over the bar following strong wing play by Jan Vertonghen and Aaron Lennon, before Schwarzer easily gathered Defoe’s tame strike from distance a minute later.
Fulham made a purposeful start to the second period and Sidwell dragged an early effort wide after Petric had robbed Sandro 25 yards from goal.
With 56 minutes on the clock, Spurs took the lead completely out of the blue. There appeared to be little danger when Sandro let fly from 35 yards but the Brazilian’s effort moved in the air and crept just inside Schwarzer’s post.
The goal gave the away side fresh impetus and they should have doubled their lead four minutes later when Bale fired straight down Schwarzer’s throat after being played in by Defoe. It was the Welshman’s last action of the game as he was replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson, while Jol swapped Frei with Duff.
The Whites probed for an equaliser and nearly grabbed it on 66 minutes when Dejagah headed over from Duff’s cross. The move came about from a delightful first time volleyed pass from Berbatov, whose touch had been magnificent all game.
The lead was doubled on 72 minutes when Sigurdsson jinked past Philippe Senderos into the area before squaring to Defoe who was never likely to miss from 10 yards.
And the game was all but over five minutes later as Defoe grabbed his second. Dempsey advanced towards goal before playing the England striker in at the opportune moment to avoid the offside flag, and the striker opened his body up to calmly pass the ball beyond Schwarzer.
Jol introduced Rodallega shortly after to try and offer a different threat up front, with Petric the man sacrificed. Fulham refused to lie down and Rodallega tested Lloris moments after coming on but his header was comfortable in the end for the France international.
With six minutes of the match remaining Dembele was withdrawn to a round of applause from the home crowd, with Tom Carroll taking his place on the pitch.
Fulham continued to probe but couldn’t reduce the deficit as our run of games without a win continues.