Fulham’s 1000th top flight football match was a defeat at Wembley Stadium against Tottenham Hotspur as Harry Kane finally scored a Premier League goal in August.
The notable decision to include Toby Alderweireld in the Tottenham starting eleven was met by cheers from the home fans within Wembley, with Lucas Moura and Dele Alli supporting Harry Kane up front. In the Fulham camp, Kevin McDonald and Andre Schurrle made way for Franck Zambo and Aboubakar Kamara.
As you’d expect, it was Tottenham who began on the front foot, and it wouldn’t have been surprising if Fulham had been two down inside the first ten minutes. In the sixth minute, Kieran Trippier made a characteristic surging run down the right flank, crossing into the box. Lucas Moura ended up with an open net to aim a header towards, but the ball flew wide.
Within the same minute, the Brazilian was given another golden opportunity to send the Lilywhites into an early lead. A mistake from Callum Chambers was capitalised on by Spurs and Lucas was sent into a one on one with Fabri. A disappointing touch resulted in a foul on the Fulham keeper.
Much of the football in the first half came down the right-hand side, with Trippier being given ridiculous areas of space to run in to, the Fulham left-back, Joe Bryan, was nowhere to be seen on several occasions. Ryan Sessegnon, who is usually a key defensive commodity on the left-hand side, surprisingly began the day on the right.
One of Harry Kane’s best opportunities of the match came within twenty minutes. The Englishman was in on goal but couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to get a shot away. Some risky defending from Fosu-Mensah however, caused Kane to appeal for a penalty, which might have been given on another day. The Fulham defender’s heel clipped Kane in the box, but Anthony Taylor was having none of it.
Fulham were barely reaching the halfway line until the 20th minute, when Sessegnon burst into the box and managed to stretch a shot towards goal from a tight angle, forcing a corner.
Another one of Fulham’s rare first half chances fell to Tom Cairney on the outside of the box. His curling shot in the 28th minute forced a good parry from Lloris, who had yet to be tested up to that point.
Ryan Sessegnon, couldn’t convert his team’s best chance of the half. An excellent dipping ball over the top from Seri was latched onto by the Englishman on the right hand side. Lloris was quick to smother his shot well.
Kieran Tripper was providing much of the attacking threat for Tottenham, but his crossing was not up to his usual standard on his first match back for his club. Nevertheless, his piercing runs were top quality, and it’s no surprise that the first goal of the match originated from the right side of the pitch. Trippier’s cross could not find a white shirt, but the defensive header came to Lucas Moura, who redeemed himself for his early missed chances with a spectacular left-footed shot that hit the post before hitting the back of the net.
Lucas’ first Premier League goal came in the 43rd minute, and Fulham were not able to respond before the half-time whistle.
Ryan Sessegnon switched to the left in the second half, Slavisa Jokanovic possibly looking to resolve the problems they were faced with on that side of the pitch. Not only this, the Fulham manager seemed to have changed the whole attitude of his players, who were much more attack-minded at the start of the second half.
And they were almost rewarded for it within three minutes, the Tottenham players allowing Mitrovic to shoot and hit the post from outside the box. Fulham looked like a completely new team with their pressing and passing, and it wasn’t long before Mitrovic was able to level the scores. An excellent cross from Bryan gave Sessegnon what would have been an absolute sitter, had he not squared the ball to Mitrovic for an even bigger sitter. Whether Sessegnon’s assist was intentional or not I’m not sure, but it was a lovely move from Fulham, who deserved to equalise after a much more positive start to the second half.
In the 63rd minute, Pochettino changed the shape by bringing off Davinson Sanchez, allowing an additional central midfielder to enter the fray in the form of Mousa Dembélé.
Spurs were beginning to look slightly desperate going into the last twenty minutes of the match. With only one home game in their next five Premier League fixtures, the pressure was on for Spurs to claim three points at their temporary home of Wembley Stadium.
The ball got closer and closer to hitting the back of Fulham’s net, with Alli unable to squeeze his shot past the defenders following a flap from Fabri in goal. Mitrovic had another great chance moments later up the other end. In what was becoming an end-to-end affair, Kane could only hit the bar from a teasing cross and it looked like the August hoodoo was in full effect once again for Harry Kane.
As Tottenham became more and more invigorated, Dele Alli draws a sloppy foul in the 74th minute. Kieran Trippier, remembering his stunning free kick against Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals, took this one. And Spurs will be glad he did. His effort cleared the wall in top-class fashion and nestled in the left-hand side of the goal way out of the reach of Fabri.
And just three minutes later, the curse was broken – Harry Kane scored a Premier League goal in August. A quick break from Tottenham ended up at Kane’s feet in the box, and the 25-year-old calmly cut inside and slotted the ball home.
Based on the final fifteen minutes, the result could have been much worse for Fulham, who can certainly take positives out of this 3-1 defeat. They showed great character at the start of the second half, and certainly had a desire to take the lead after they equalised. It’s important that they kick on from the experience and try and grab some points against Burnley next weekend.
Spurs on the other hand, win their opening two Premier League matches for the first time in four years, and the attacking prowess will satisfy Pochettino. Next week presents a big test for the Lilywhites however, who travel to Manchester to take on the Red Devils.