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West Ham United
December 4, 2013
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: M. Clattenburg
• Attendance: 24128
A. Dejagah 56'
V. Chiricheş 73'
L. Holtby 82'
Overall, then, Meulensteen can be fairly happy with his side's display in his first game in charge - play like that every week and Fulham will soon make their way up the table. Villas-Boas, meanwhile, will also be a happy man this evening. Had his side lost this one the fans would probably be calling for his head but, of course, three points make everything okay.
Stekelenburg was probably unlucky to concede twice, to be honest, with Fulham playing pretty well at times and the keeper having a good game in which he had absolutely no chance with either goal. His opposite number, however, also had a stunning game - Lloris making a string of brilliant saves to deny the likes of Berbatov and Ruiz.
There goes the full-time whistle and Villas-Boas breathes a huge sigh of relief. After a good first half of many chances, but no goals, Dejagah finally got the first of the game just before the hour mark. Fulham dropped too deep too quickly, though, and Spurs were able to get back into the game courtesy of a brilliant Chiriches strike after sustained pressure. Then, with the visitors not content with a point, Holtby fired another superb shot past Stekelenburg to bag all three points.
90' + 3'
POST! Kasami rattles the woodwork from inside the penalty box! SO unlucky.
90' + 2'
Yellow CardPhilippe Senderos
90' + 2'
Stekelenburg fires it forward but Duff is unable to hold on to the ball.
Three minutes added on.
ANOTHER SAVE LLORIS! The Spurs keeper gets a strong left hand to Ruiz's effort to palm it away from goal! Great reactions from the Frenchman!
It's a big ask for Fulham to get back into this one with under five minutes left - surely they can't?
WHAT A SAVE!! Stekelenburg keeps Fulham in with a chance after tipping Paulinho's header away from the top corner!
GOOOOAAALL! Holtby may just have won this game with a stunning effort from outside the box! The midfielder cuts in from the right before smashing the ball past Stekelenburg with a fine left-footed strike - his first Premier League goal.
Berbatov's cross from the right is deflected - Lloris parries it away and Spurs get lucky as they're able to clear the danger thanks to a favourable bounce.
SAVE! Lloris makes a brilliant stop to tip Berbatov's neat flick wide of his near post!
I've just seen the Tottenham goal again and it seems like Defoe is in an offside position when Chiriches hits it, before the striker jumps over the ball on its way in. Could be a talking point after the game, that.
Defoe has a great chance to put Tottenham ahead as he races away from Senderos, but he sends the shot well over the bar when one-on-one with the Fulham keeper. He should do better!
Spurs right back in it now, and you might even fancy them to push on with the momentum and after Fulham have dropped deep.
GoalVlad Iulian Chiricheş
GOAL! Chiriches fires Tottenham level from long range! A Spurs corner is headed away from the area but it falls to the defender who drives a peach of a low strike in off the post and well out of Stekelenburg's reach.
"Attack, attack, attack," sing the Tottenham fans as the hosts get deeper and deeper. Surely just sitting back for around 20 minutes is too dangerous for Fulham?
Vertonghen sends a long ball forward from defence, and it's dealt with by Fulham easily. The hosts are proving really tough to break down now.
Dawson clears after good work from Kasami on the right flank - Fulham are looking solid at the back but may not be done themselves up front just yet.
Walker, Holtby and Lamela knock it around on Spurs' left but struggle to find an opening, the latter is forced to cross and it's headed away.
Kasami attempts a long-range effort but it's poor and Lloris saves with ease. There was some nice buil-up play there from Sidwell and Dejagah, though.
Kasami flicks the ball on neatly to Berbatov but the latter's cross is cleared away from the penalty area.
Half an hour left and Meulensteen makes his first move, throwing on some fresh legs in midfield in the shape of Sidwell.
Spurs are right back on the ball but Fulham have looked tough to break down so far and will make this hard for the visitors now, who have had lots of chances but few really clear ones.
GOAL! Dejagah fires Fulham ahead after a brilliant ball in from Berbatov! Spurs give it away in midfield before the former Tottenham man plays his team-mate through on goal with delightful vision - then the Cottagers midfielder makes no mistake in firing past Lloris.
CHANCE FULHAM! Berbatov fires just wide from close range after a cross from the right squeezes past Chiriches. He should do better, really.
Karagounis delivers but Kasami doesn't get a good connection with his header and Spurs can clear.
Fulham have a free-kick in Spurs' half after a poor Chiriches tackle ...
More good play from Spurs! Lennon gets in space on the right again before finding Defoe, the striker has his back to goal but attempts a cheeky back-heel which is blocked. The ball then falls to Sandro who blasts a shot off-target.
Great move Tottenham! Lennon and Holtby link up with a brilliant one-two on the right, the former's cross finds Defoe but Senderos makes a vital challenge to block the shot.
Stekelenburg finds Dejagah with a brilliant quick kick up field, after saving Holtby's deflected shot, but Vertonghen gets back for Tottenham and clears the danger.
And we're back underway. One change at the break - Holtby replacing Capoue for Spurs.
It has been quiet at times - when Spurs decide to just keep the ball in midfield - but on the whole we've got a pretty good game on our hands here. Let's hope both sides continue to go for it after the break.
Berbatov and Karagounis both went close for Fulham, only for Lloris to make two good saves, while Stekelenburg made a fine stop to deny the fairly impressive Lamela. Defoe has also looked lively for the visitors, but is yet to really threaten the Cottagers' goal.
The half-time whistle goes - how is this game still 0-0!? The two sides have each had numerous chances, with Lloris and Stekelenburg both making a string of decent saves. The best chance of the game fell to Tottenham midfielder Paulinho, after a quick breakaway following a Fulham chance, but the Brazilian could only fire over from close range.
One minute added on at Craven Cottage.
Kasami sees his shot deflected over after good work from Kacaniklic creates a decent opening.
Great ball in from the left by Vertonghen but Hughes is in the right place to clear the danger.
CHANCE! Back come Fulham with Karagounis finding Kacaniklic on the edge of the Spurs box, but the latter can only fire over the bar.
Capoue comes in on his left foot but sends a wild effort wide of the post.
And now another quiet spell with Spurs just knocking the ball about as they search for an opening. It seems like they can turn it on and off as they please just now.
Lennon cuts in onto his left foot but sees his shot deflected wide of the post.
SAVE STEKELENBURG! Spurs midfielder Lamela forces the Fulham keeper into a brilliant save after some great footwork from the attacker.
Yellow CardPajtim Kasami
CLOSE TOTTENHAM! Paulinho finds Defoe with a brilliant ball over the top, the forward crosses for Lamela whose first-time effort is a yard or so wide.
Spurs now are controlling possession as they slow the tempo right down. Fulham are proving tough to break down, though.
This is turning into a really good game now, with both sides really going for it.
CLOSE AGAIN! Fulham go close this time with Dejagah's header from a corner deflected narrowly over the bar!
HOW has Paulinho not scored?! Spurs break after that Fulham chance, with Defoe chasing away from the midfield before playing the Brazilian in on goal. He dummies past a couple of defenders before lashing the ball over the bar with a wild effort from just a few yards out.
GREAT SAVE LLORIS! The Frenchman gets down quickly to palm away Berbatov's shot on the turn, following more good work by Kasami.
Kasami beats Vertonghen too easily on the right flank but sees his cross headed behind by Sandro.
Sandro wins the ball off Senderos right outside the Fulham penalty box but Parker gets back just in time to deny Lennon.
The likes of Vertonghen, Lamela and Paulinho show some neat passing on the near side but Fulham get numbers over and win it back. However, the hosts give the ball straight away again.
Karagounis' delivery from the resulting corner is poor, but Fulham are certainly on top now.
SAVE! Lloris beats the ball away from his near post after a decent strike from range by Karagounis.
Yellow CardEtienne Capoue
Lovely play Kacaniklic! The Fulham winger beats a man on a neat run before threading the ball through to Berbatov, but the striker's touch is too heavy and Lloris is able to sweep up.
Chance! Karagounis delivers a deep free-kick into the Spurs box, Berbatov flicks it on but Lloris is well placed to make the save.
Vertonghen goes long with a diagonal cross-field ball - which doesn't find its target. Neither side are managing to keep hold of the ball at the moment.
Fulham give the ball away again in midfield as a sloppy Karagounis touch allows Sandro to gain possession - they've made a poor start.
SAVE! Stekelenburg makes an early stop to deny Defoe after Fulham give the ball away in their own half! The striker races past Senderos but the keeper gets down low to make the save.
Kacaniklic whips in an early free-kick for Fulham from the right but it's headed away and cleared from the visitors' box.
And we're off.
Kick-off is imminent at Craven Cottage ...
One current Spurs striker looking to make an impact tonight will be Defoe, who starts in place of Roberto Soldado. The Englishman has been short of chances to impress so far this season and will be hoping to grab this one with both hands. He often scores against Fulham ...
However, the omens are not in their favour. Tottenham have won on each of their last three visits to Craven Cottage, while Fulham have now lost five league games in a row. The Cottagers did, however, beat Spurs in the last meeting between these two sides with Dimitar Berbatov - who starts for them tonight - scoring the only goal.
So, Meulensteen's first game in charge at Craven Cottage comes with Fulham three points inside the relegation zone, and with Crystal Palace - the team beneath them - beating West Ham last night the west London side are under real pressure to get a victory this evening.
Fulham starting line-up: Stekelenburg; Riether, Hughes, Senderos, Riise; Parker, Karagounis; Dejagah, Kasami, Kačaniklić; Berbatov. Subs: Stockdale, Zverotic, Boateng, Sidwell, Duff, Taarabt, Ruiz.
Tottenham starting line-up: Lloris; Walker, Chiriches, Dawson, Vertonghen; Capoue, Sandro; Lennon, Paulinho, Lamela; Defoe. Subs: Friedel, Naughton, Chadli, Holtby, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Soldado.
Line-ups in full coming right up ...
There's changes for both sides tonight, with Erik Lamela, Jermain Defoe and Etienne Capoue coming in for Tottenham and Meulensteen making a whopping seven changes from the Fulham side that lost 3-0 to West Ham.
The hosts are under the control of Rene Meulensteen for the first time, after Martin Jol's sacking on Sunday, while Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas may just have saved his job with that draw against Manchester United on the same day. If the north Londoners lose tonight, however, the Portuguese will certainly be under pressure once more.
Hello and welcome to LIVE play-by-play text commentary of Tottenham's Premier League trip to Craven Cottage, where they face Fulham.
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