Own-goal sees Spurs edge past Fulham
Tosin Adarabioyo inadvertently turns home Dele Alli's flick to hand Tottenham 1-0 win at Craven Cottage
04 March, 2021 — By Dan Carrier
SPURS 1 (Tosin 19 OG)
SPURS, in the end, did just enough to earn three valuable points tonight (Thursday) at Fulham – and the fact Jose Mourinho’s side managed to see out a game where they led 1-0 for 70 minutes can be considered an improvement from recent games.
Previous matches, where Tottenham have tried to use backs-to-the-wall tactics after taking a lead, have ended with frustration as they have become notorious for failing to see games out.
This victory at Craven Cottage means Mourinho’s men moved to within three points of the top-four and the Spurs boss will be very satisfied about the manner of the win against an in form home side desperate for points.
After going ahead on 19 minutes after a Dele Alli flick found its way into the back of the net via a deflection off Tosin Adarabioyo, Spurs only threatened sporadically and had to stand tall in the face of Fulham’s gutsy, if disjointed, second-half onslaught.
The visitors had to ride their luck – Fulham felt they had equalised on the hour mark, and it would have been well-deserved. After a good spell of pressure, Josh Maja swivelled and fired a low shot home in side the box.
But VAR judged Mario Lemina had handled before the ball fell to Maja. It did strike Lemina’s arm, but the midfielder couldn’t get out the way and the offending limb was against his body. Upon such slim margins, end of season rankings sit.
Speaking after the match Mourinho was full of praise for how goal creator Alli had performed. He said: “He deserved to start. It was not a gift. It was a consequence of his hard work.
“He was giving us important things. He did very well in the Europa League and very well in every minute he had.”
In the opening exchanges, Tottenham’s dream front-four of Alli, Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Gareth Bale played the sort of free-flowing stuff the fans had hoped to see all season.
They caused all sorts of problems for Fulham’s defence but could not find the finish their inventiveness deserved.
In the end, the winner came in decidedly less fluent fashion. Bale shifted the ball quickly to Alli in a central position. He scooped a pass out left for Son, who had time to pick his spot.
The forward saw Kane drag defenders towards him, and played a low ball into the space Kane had made for the onrushing Alli. The midfielder gave the ball a goal-bound flick but it was the boot of Tosin that took it past Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola.
Spurs sat back to defend their lead and hope for some joy on the break. Fulham went for it in admirable fashion, making inroads into the spaces Tottenham had left as they sat back, but Scott Parker’s side could not find that final bit of quality to make their effort count.
The Champions League looked some distance away for Tottenham two weeks ago. It has now got a little closer, especially considering Spurs have games to come against others in the hunt. But as tonight showed, it will be skin of the teeth stuff.
Fulham: Areola, Robinson (Bryan, 75), Andersen, Tosin, Aina, Lemina, Reed, Loftus-Cheek (Zambo Anguissaat, 64), Lookman, Cavaleiro (Mitrovic, 71) Maja
Substitutes not used: Fabri, Ream, Tete, Onomah, De Cordova-Reid, Kongolo
Tottenham: Lloris, Doherty, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies, Hojbjerg, Ndombele (Lamela, 75), Bale (Moura, 67), Alli (Sissoko, 67), Son, Kane
Substitutes not used: Hart, Reguilon, Tanganga, Dier, Winks, Vinicius