Jose Mourinho had plenty to say in the build up this game – expecting an apology from Scott Parker, whose rage at the hasty rearrangement of this fixture had generated headlines, if Fulham had fielded anything like a full-strength side. The Tottenham manager might now be demanding an explanation from his players after they surrendered yet another Premier League lead, having been outfought in the second half by Parker’s tigerish charges. The visitors fully deserved their first top flight London derby point in nearly seven years, delivered by a thumping Ivan Cavaleiro header after a sparkling bit of wing play from substitute Ademola Lookman.
On this evidence, it is easy to chart a course to safety for Fulham – something you wouldn’t have suggested after such a calamitous start to the season. Having battled both coronavirus and the Premier League’s intransigence, Parker’s team were well-drilled in their now customary 3-4-3, but far from passive in possession. They added a sense of adventure to an intriguing encounter and showed commendable character to shrug off the setback of conceding a brilliant diving header to Harry Kane before regrouping at the interval and dominating a second period that Spurs watched drift by. Parker’s changes made a real difference – Lookman added energy and zest, providing the equaliser with a wonderful dart to the byline and a delicious cross, and, Aboubakar Kamara spotted his run in the dying seconds, he may even have pinched a winner.
Fulham made an enterprising start but were perhaps fortunate that Tottenham’s clearest early openings fell to Sergio Reguilon, who has still to break his duck for the north London club. The Spaniard might have been surprised to see Son’s cross bounce into his path twelve yards out: his first shot was bravely blocked, but his second lacked conviction and flew over the bar. The visitors’ eagnerness to make an impression was exemplified by Bobby Decordova-Reid who forced Regulion into a timely block as he surged forward and, after a burst from the returning Kenny Tete, clever feet from by Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa from a well-worked corner drew a sharp save from Hugo Lloris.
Alphonse Areola then made two excellent saves from Son in the space of five minutes. The first was an instinctive reaction save with his legs after the Korean looked certain to open the scoring, guiding home Moussa Sissoko’s cross from close range. He did even better shortly afterwards springing to his right to claw Son’s header away from the top corner and preserving parity. There was absolutely nothing the French international could do about Tottenham’s opener a minute later, however. Regulion whipped in a delicious ball from the left and Kane’s flying header arrowed into the bottom corner.
Kane wasn’t great as predatory with his next opportunity three minutes later. Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier worked the opening fantastically down the right and, perhaps Kane was put of by the presence of Joachim Andersen in front of him, but the England captain glanced his header well wide of the target this time. Arguably, it was an easier opportunity than the one had he so expertly snaffled up. The goal momentarily jolted Fulham, but Parker’s side quickly recovered their composure and they might have been level before the break.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, too often a brooding presence in midfield for Fulham this season, started and almost finished a flowing move. The Chelsea loanee advanced deep into Tottenham territory and stroked a lovely pass out to Tete down the right. The Dutch wing-back’s delivery was sublime and Loftus-Cheek acrobatically swivelled on his volley from fifteen yards, sending it fractionally past the far post. Anguissa’s daisycutter was easily handled by Lloris and Spurs, who had marginally shaded the first half, may have had a more considerable advantage had a late chance fell to Son or Kane, who fashioned it, rather than Pierre Emile Højbjerg, whose tame shot with just Areola to beat was almost apologetic.
There was a terrific intensity to the resumption as the action swung from end-to-end. Loftus-Cheek had an effort on goal blocked at source before Toisin Adarabioyo produced a most marvellous moment of defending to diffuse the danger after Sissoko had threatened to dribble his way through the Fulham defence. The calm centre half timed his intervention to perfection and kept Fulham firmly in the contest. If only Tete had shown such composure at the other end instead of lashing into the side netting when found by a gorgeous switch of play from Harrison Reed. Decordova-Reid and Cavaleiro were both in better positions than the full-back, who saw the glory all for himself.
Fulham gradually began to dominate possession and probe patiently outside the Tottenham box, but their football lacked the dynamism or ruthlessness to profit from promising positions. An untimely slip from Ola Aina almost undid all their good work, allowing Ndombele to set Son clear but, for once, the winger’s finishing instinct let him down. He scuffed his shot and it bounced back off the post to safety. Parker turned to his bench for the first time, introducing Lookman for the tiring Tete and exhorting his troops for more endeavour from the touchline.
They obliged almost immediately. Lookman had already enlivened the Fulham forward line, winning a dangerous free-kick and forcing an important block from Aurier, before he produced the game’s pivotal moment, darting away from Davinson Sanchez and delivering an excellent cross that eluded Eric Dier. Cavaleiro, who had scored just once previously this season, soared majestically and guided his header past Lloris. It was no more than Fulham deserved.
They suddenly looked much more dangerous than their rather generous hosts. Lookman’s delightful desire to run at defenders carried him beyond three as he carved out a good opening for Loftus-Cheek, whose stabbed finish was thwarted by a desperate Lloris, and he was left unseen as Kamara surged away down the right in the last minute. A Tottenham winner would have been undeserved and Regulion’s injury-time effort was rightly chalked off, with both the full-back and Son in offside positions before the ball ended up in the net.
The usually understated Parker was animated in the build-up and delighted at the final whistle, letting out an audible ‘Come on!’ as he celebrated with his coaching staff. This was Fulham’s first point from a losing position all season – and extended their creditable unbeaten run to six games. As the battle against the drop heats up, Fulham are certainly showing they are up for the fight; in more ways than one.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Reguilon, Sanchez, Dier; Winks (Lamela 75), Højbjerg; Sissoko, Ndombele (Vinicius 81), Son; Kane. Subs (not used): Hart, Alderweireld, Davies, Doherty, Alli, Moura, Bale.
GOAL: Kane (24).
FULHAM (3-4-3): Areola; Aina, Adarabioyo, Andersen; Tete (Lookman 67), Robinson, Reed, Anguissa; Loftus-Cheek (Onomah 90), Decordova-Reid, Cavaleiro (Kamara 86). Subs (not used): Rodak, Kongolo, Hector, Ream, Bryan, Kebano.
BOOKED: Anguissa, Andersen.
GOAL: Cavaleiro (74).
REFEREE: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).
VIDEO ASSISTANT REFEREE: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).