Dec 4, 2013, 5:09 PM EST
In his first match at the helm of sinking Fulham, Rene Meulensteen’s tactics were simple. With a struggling back line, his best defense became an offense.
Fulham pressed Tottenham throughout, but it wasn’t to be on Meulensteens debut as Vlad Chiriches and Louis Holtby worldlies put Spurs through for all three points.
It’s a painful result for the Whites, their sixth straight defeat, but if nothing else it’s a promising display going forward under new management.
Andre Villas-Boas will be thanking his lucky starts his players were able to pull those goals out of the bag considering how wasteful they were in the first half.
Jermain Defoe had the match’s first good chance on goal, picking out a poor pass by Aaron Hughes and tracking Philippe Senderos back before firing on net and forcing a nice reaction save by Maarten Stekelenburg.
Fulham responded with a few spells in the Spurs box, one that nearly saw Alex Kacaniklic find Dimitar Berbatov but the Bulgarian striker couldn’t connect on the ball. Giorgis Karagounis popped off a shot from a tight angle as well.
Then suddenly the game exploded open. Dimitar Berbatov nearly had the opener in the 22nd minute, but Hugo Lloris produced a world-class save as he got fingertips to the low volley.
Spurs then countered, and should have gone 1-up. Jermain Defoe made the run through the central midfield, and he found Paulinho in the box who brilliantly cut back twice to get by defenders. The move resulted in acres of space 5 yards away from a wide open goal, only to blaze well over with a shocking miss.
Back down the other end Fulham went, and on a corner Ashkan Dejagah touched a strong header just over the bar.
Again Spurs had a glorious opportunity to take the lead in the 31st minute as Defoe was one-on-one with Senderos on the edge of the box. His pass sliced through to Erik Lamela, but the Argentinian’s low drive went just past the post.
Stekelenburg made a brilliant save a minute later, as another Lamela shot takes a deflection but the keeper leaped to track it down.
Somehow, the game ended goalless at the halftime break, and in the second half Fulham’s defense continued to absorb some pressure.
The 53rd minute saw Defoe attempt a strong back-heel but men were there to collect, and Paulinho’s follow-up was blocked.
Then the breakthrough, a deserved goal for the game. Parker won the ball in the midfield, and a beautiful ball from Berbatov across the attacking third to Dejagah in plenty of space who finished professionally past Lloris.
The goal energized the home side even more, as Fulham put in by far the best performance of the season. However, out of nothing Chiriches drew level, shocking everyone at the ground.
A corner was easily cleared in the 73rd minute well out, and the center back popped off a low volley from 35-yards out snuck past a crowd of players and fooled Stekelenburg for the equalizer.
Still, Fulham did not let down, and Berbatov nearly put them back in front on 80 minutes.
But a youngster was there to rescue all the points for Villas-Boas. German former U-21 international Louis Holtby cut out a bit of space some 30 yards out, and the ground was left pondering what could have been as Holtby’s wonder goal flew in.
Pajtim Kasami hit the post in added time, but all of Fulham’s hard work had been successfully been undone.
The Whites remain languished in 18th place, with just 10 points on the season. Andre Villas-Boas will be delighted to see his club leap up to 6th place above Newcastle and Southampton.
Fulham – Dejagah 56′
Tottenham – Chiriches 73′; Holtby 82′
Fulham: Stekelenburg; Riether, Hughes, Senderos, Riise; Karagounis (Sidwell, 62′), Parker (Ruiz, 87′); Kacaniklic (Duff, 85′), Kasami, Dejagah; Berbatov.
Tottenham Hotspur – Lloris; Walker, Chiriches, Dawson, Vertonghen; Sandro (Chadli, 69′), Capoue (Holtby, 45′); Lennon, Paulinho, Lamela (Townsend, 78′); Defoe.
Feb 1, 2015, 12:53 PM EST
A stunner from Jonjo Shelvey saw Swansea surprisingly through after a lackluster first hour.
Feb 1, 2015, 12:08 PM EST
Arsene Wenger felt the scoreline may not have reflected the true nature of the game, and that the second goal was the key one in breaking down the visitors to the Emirates earlier today.
Feb 1, 2015, 11:22 AM EST
A pair of first-half goals saw Celtic through to the Scottish League Cup final over rivals Rangers.
Feb 1, 2015, 10:39 AM EST
Southampton can jump right back into the top three with a win against a struggling Swansea side at home.
Feb 1, 2015, 10:21 AM EST
Olivier Giroud opened things up inside 10 minutes and it was a sign of things to come as Aston Villa slumped to 612 minutes without a league goal.
Feb 1, 2015, 9:03 AM EST
His ACL tear in the past, now a fresh injury concern has shelved the Dutch midfielder.
Feb 1, 2015, 7:44 AM EST
Mesut Ozil starts in the middle in place of injured Alexis Sanchez as Aston Villa comes to the Emirates.
Jan 31, 2015, 11:20 PM EST
Diego Costa has again claimed his own innocence. And you know what? I believe that he believes he’s done nothing wrong.
Jan 31, 2015, 10:43 PM EST
Big Sam was quick to take the credit away from Liverpool and place the blame for Saturday’s loss on his own injury “crisis.”
Jan 31, 2015, 9:24 PM EST
Van Gaal remembers what happened last time his side led Leicester, and he learns his lessons the first time.
Jan 31, 2015, 8:30 PM EST
All of the day’s confirmed, officially official transfer dealings from Saturday, Jan. 31.
Jan 31, 2015, 7:27 PM EST
The actual games took a backseat to shenanigans as two of four semifinals places were booked on Saturday.
Jan 31, 2015, 5:45 PM EST
All of Saturday’s action from Spain and Italy.
Jan 31, 2015, 4:57 PM EST
Arsenal and Southampton hope to keep their assaults on the Top Four in order, while Aston Villa and Swansea City hope to snap skids.
Jan 31, 2015, 4:19 PM EST
And to think, we’ve still a pair of Sunday matches on the slate. Let’s go through what’s done and dusted.
Jan 31, 2015, 3:40 PM EST
There were eight games in the PL on a busy Saturday. Here’s how it all went down with recaps, analysis and much more.
Jan 31, 2015, 3:20 PM EST
Manchester City’s boss thought his charges were very good, but is disappointed to snare a solitary point against Chelsea.
Jan 31, 2015, 3:12 PM EST
Lampard was the last player on the pitch, saluting both groups of supporters.
Jan 31, 2015, 3:06 PM EST
What did we learn from the tense draw at Stamford Bridge? Here’s three things.
Jan 31, 2015, 2:47 PM EST
Giving Chelsea and City’s players a mark out of 10.
- Southampton 0-1 Swansea: Shelvey snatches win with sensational late strike 0
- Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa: Gunners torch hapless Villa with deadly counters 0
- Diego Costa maintains his innocence, says “I’ve not done anything wrong” 4
- DONE DEAL: Seydou Doumbia to Roma headlines quiet Saturday for transfers 0
- Premier League Sunday preview: Top-half teams jockey for position 0
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