Harry Kane has made a career out of being clinical in front of goal. Tonight, was no exception. The England captain drew level with Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham’s leading goalscorer and delivered a vital victory for the under-pressure Antonio Conte with a superb strike out of nothing that turned this London derby on its head. Fulham, who had dominated the first period, until Kane collected a pass from Son Hueng-Min, twisted and turned away from Tim Ream and found the bottom corner with a precise shot that still carried plenty of power, were taught the harshest of lessons.
Marco Silva’s side, fresh from last Sunday’s agonising defeat at Newcastle, were bright and progressive in the first half but were ultimately punished for their failure to finish good chances. Hugo Lloris was in fine form in goal, saving smartly from Bobby Decordova-Reid when the wily winger went for goal from more than twenty yards. The French goalkeeper handled an Andreas Pereira free-kick with ease and was then alert to deny Harrison Reed after the Fulham midfielder had burst onto a cross from Pereira.
Tottenham threatened sporadically with Kane curling one well wide and Emerson Royal then forced Bernd Leno into a good sprawling save at his near post. Willian extended Lloris after a swift Fulham break and Joao Palhinha headed disappointing over from a free-kick. But Spurs worked up a head of steam right at the end of the first half, penning the hosts back and forcing a succession of corners. Kane’s moment of inspiration – spinning away from Ream and finding the corner with a high quality finish – proved to be the difference between the two teams. But whether Son should have been able to find his captain with a clever pass was debatable after seeing the replay of his studs up challenge on Kenny Tete.
Going in at half time a goal down after dominating proceedings must have galled Silva’s side. It might have been worse shortly after the interval when Ben Davies glanced a free-kick back acros goal, with Kane denied by a remarkable relax stop by Bernd Leno. Fulham saw plenty of the ball but struggled to unlock a defence that has been castigated for not being up to standard. Here, on a freezing night on the banks of the River Thames, was cateneccio at its finest. Mitrovic fired across goal from a quickly-taken free kick but once again Fulham’s football became more fluent once Tom Cairney was summoned from the bench.
He almost made an immediate impact floating a fine ball onto the head of Mitrovic, who headed just over the bar. Tottenham’s blue line retreated deeper and deeper. Manor Solomon almost capped an impressive cameo with the equaliser – bending a brilliant finish towards the far corner, only for Lloris to extend himself once move and palm the shot aside for a corner. There was plenty of timewasting and histrionics but you had to applaud the heart of a Spurs side who ground out an impressive victory.
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete (Solomon 80), A. Robinson, Diop, Ream; Reed (Cairney 65), Palhinha; Willain (Vincius 87), Decordova-Reid (Wilson 87), Pereira; Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Rodak, Kurzawa, Adarabioyo, Chalobah, James.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (3-4-2-1): Lloris; Romero, Dier, Davies; Emerson, Perisic, Hojbjerg, Bentancur; Kulusevski (Bissouma 90), Son (Richarlison 76); Kane. Subs (not used): Forster, Doherty, Sanchez, Tanganga, Lenglet, Skipp, R. Sessegnon.
BOOKED: Son, Romero, Bentancur.
GOAL: Kane (45+2).
REFEREE: Paul Tierney (Wigan).