Marco Silva bemoaned Fulham’s ‘sloppy’ first half after Tottenham continued their unbeaten Premier League start with a 2-1 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium thanks to goals from Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Harry Kane. The Whites struggled to make much of an impression until the last ten minutes when a magnificent curling effort from Aleksandar Mitrovic – the Serbian’s sixth goal in as many matches this season – raised hopes of an unlikely fightback. Fulham couldn’t find an equaliser and the lively Richarlison was unfortunate to see a late goal ruled out by VAR on his first Spurs start in stoppage time.
The hosts utterly dominated the first half, although Fulham forged the first chance with Ryan Sessegnon arriving in the nick of time to deny Bobby Decordova-Reid a shot on goal after excellent hold up play from Mitrovic. Berno Leno, brilliant throughout, produced a excellent diving save to deny Kane and Kenny Tete’s superb defending prevented Richarlison opening the scoring at the back post. When Tottenham did have the ball in the net, it was ruled out for offside against Kane in the build up.
Tim Ream then did brilliantly to block a Son strike after Richarlison had picked out the South Korean with a lovely low ball and Son – still seeking his first goal of the season – was then denied by the crossbar from close range after he had latched onto a clever Kane chip. Just as it looked as if the visitors might make it to half time unscathed, Tottenham took the lead on 40 minutes. Højbjerg played a one-two at pace with Richarlison and then placed his finish calmly past Leno.
Spurs started strongly once again after the restart. Kane teed up Richarlison, whose shot was well held by Leno. The Brazilian, buzzing around brightly, then picked out Eric Dier but the England international drove disappointingly over. The ex-Everton forward perhaps might have done better than shoot straight at Leno when space opened up for him inside the penalty area. Fulham threatened sporadically with Hugo Lloris forced into his first save after a Mitrovic effort was deflected towards the far corner.
Leno then made a superb save to prevent Sessegnon from scoring against his former club – somehow stretching to tip the left wing back’s low shot past the far post. Silva, who had earlier been forced to send on Kevin Mbabu in place of the injured Antonee Robinson, introduced Willian and Dan James for their Fulham debuts alongside Tom Cairney. The on-loan Leeds winger almost made an immediate impact with a fine cross that found Mitrovic, but the in-form forward couldn’t head home. Spurs still kept up the pressure with Leno doing well again to save a Son strike despite a significant deflection.
The second that the home fans craved arrived with fifteen minutes to play, despite a lengthy VAR check for offside. A slick move saw Son and Sessegnon combine effectively before Kane pounced from close range to score his 188th Premier League goal to move ahead of Andrew Cole in the all-time standings. But Fulham were far from finished. They continued to push forward and Tete’s clever ball located Mitrovic in a bit of space. The Serbian moved inside the area on his right foot and curled a great finish around Lloris to make for a nervy last few minutes.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (3-4-3): Lloris; Romero, Lenglet, Dier; Emerson Royal, Sessegnon, Højbjerg, Bentancur; Richarlison, Son Heung-Min (Perisic 84), Kane (Kulusevski 78). Subs (not used): Forster, Davies, Sanchez, Tanganga, Skipp, Doherty, Bissouma.
BOOKED: Romero, Bentancur, Richarlison.
GOALS: Højbjerg (40), Kane (75).
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete, A. Robinson (Mbabu 29), Adarabioyo, Ream; Palhinha (Vinicius 85), Reed; Kebano (Willian 60), Decordova-Reid (James 60), Pereira (Cairney 61); Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Rodak, Duffy, Diop, Chalobah.
BOOKED: Tete, Decordova-Reid, Palhinha, Mitrovic.
GOAL: Mitrovic (82).
REFEREE: Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton).