In the space of forty five bewildering minutes, this London derby was over. Tottenham, set for a test of their European credentials against AC Milan next month in the Champions League, were completely overrun by a rampant Fulham side. Mark Hughes’ men buzzed around brightly for the outset, far too potent for a slipshod Spurs defence and the visitors’ midfield appeared virtually non-existent. The only surprise – after the early dismissal of Michael Dawson – was that it was only four at half time. ‘You might as well go home,’ cried the home fans. It seemed like sound advice.

Fulham’s reward for their enterprising start was a two-goal advantage supplied by two Danny Murphy spot-kicks. A disorientated Tottenham defence was encapsulated by Dawson, who gave the ball away carelessly outside his own box, creating danger that was only compounded when Alan Hutton clattered into Clint Dempsey inside the area. Murphy stroked the ensuing penalty in the bottom corner to give the Whites the lead.

Worse was to come for Dawson, who dallied in possession after receiving a goal kick from Heurelho Gomes, himself no stranger to nightmares at Craven Cottage. The lively Mousa Dembele nipped in to steal the ball and head into the area before he was pulled to the ground by a desperate Dawson – and the red card was the only possible outcome. Murphy decisively won a second battle of wits with the Spurs goalkeeper in quick success, finding the opposite corner, and Fulham had a commanding cushion.

They might have had a third shortly afterwards when Dempsey, who had earlier tested Tottenham twice with headers before the onslaught really got going, grazed the crossbar with a half-volley from Andy Johnson’s cut back. Any reprieve was shortlived. Shambolic defending at a corner allowed Andy Johnson to flick on Damien Duff’s delivery and an unmarked Brede Hangeland had the simplest of finishes from two yards to make it three.

Spurs looked completely shellshocked. Harry Redknapp had already switched from all-out-to-attack to damage limitation, replacing Sandro with William Gallas, but the visitors only significant opening came courtesy of Luka Modric’s quick feet but the little Croatian drove wide after creating space for himself following a short corner. Indeed, it was from Murphy’s desire to deny Tottenham’s playmaker any space from which Fulham’s fourth goal originated. His tackle on Modric snuffed out any danger and a precise pass found Dembele on the halfway line. The brilliant Belgian, a nimble presence in Fulham’s front line, turned and sped towards the Tottenham penalty area, gliding effortlessly past Sebastian Bassong, and firing into the bottom corner.

The hosts could have had far more in the second half as well. Duff drove devastating down the left and Johnson would have been disappointed to head over the bar from close range. Dempsey brought a stunning save from Gomes when he shot goalwards at the end of a fine Fulham move and the American was inches away from adding a fifth with a venomous drive from an almost impossible angle.

Spurs, who had sent on Peter Crouch for the second half, struggled for any coherence. The visitors only serious attack of the second period was halted by an assured clearance from Hangeland – and Fulham might have heaped more embarrassment on Redknapp’s men before the death. Aaron Hughes was denied by the woodwork, when a header from Duff’s corner came back off the crossbar, before Gomes thwarted Zoltan Gera with his feet. The game finished with a period of prolonged Fulham keep ball, with a chorus of cheers from a delighted home support. The final whistle felt like an act of mercy for a chastened Tottenham.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Stockdale; Pantsil, Salcido, Hughes, Hangeland; Sidwell, Murphy (Greening 73), Dempsey, Duff; A. Johnson (Gera 68), Dembele (Davies 80). Subs (not used): Etheridge, Kelly, Dikgacoi, Kamara.


GOALS: Murphy (pen 11, pen 14), Hangeland (23), Dembele (45+3).

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-2-3-1): Gomes; Hutton, Assou-Ekotto, Dawson, Bassong; Sandro (Gallas 17), Modric; Lennon, Pienaar, van der Vaart (Jenas 66); Defoe (Crouch 45). Subs (not used): Cudicini, Corluka, Krancjar, Pavlyuchenko.

BOOKED: van der Vaart.

SENT OFF: Dawson.

REFEREE: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).