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Kane puts plucky Fulham to the sword

It wasn’t a fairytale return to Wembley for Fulham after all. Three months after that magical day when the Whites won promotion to the Premier League by seeing off Aston Villa, Slavisa Jokanovic’s much-changed side were ultimately outclassed by Tottenham Hotspur but not before they gave Spurs something of a fright with a spirited second half showing. There were more than enough positives to take from an intriguing encounter, even if two straight defeats hint at the step up in class from the Championship.

Jokanovic made three changes from the side that had dominated possession on the opening day against Crystal Palace but were undone by naivety in both boxes. Timothy Fosu-Mensah replaced Cyrus Christie at right back, whilst André-Frank Zambo Anguissa was handed a debut in front of the defence and Aboubakar Kamara started in place of Andre Schurrle. The French forward operated on the left, but the inverted nature of Fulham’s wingers left them a little unbalanced in attack, with Ryan Sessegnon a peripheral figure on the right flank.

Tottenham began the brighter with Ben Davies whipping in a dangerous cross from the left that Lucas Moura should have done better than steer wide with his head at the back post. Harry Kane fell theatrically to the ground shortly afterwards but his appeals for a spot-kick were waved away by referee Anthony Taylor, as the England captain sought to make the most of scant contact from Fosu-Mensah. Fulham gradually felt their way into the contest – with their best spell of possession seeing Kamara and Tom Cairney play in Sessegnon, whose snapshot inside the six-yard box was blocked behind for a corner.

Hugo Lloris was called into action just before the half hour mark when a clever Kamara pass teed up Cairney in a central position just outside the box but Lloris got a firm hand to the Scottish international’s drive as it threatened the bottom corner. At the other end, Christian Eriksen brought a fine reaction save from Fabri with a curling free-kick that nearly crept in at the near post – but Fulham were growing in confidence.

A beautiful through ball from Jean-Michael Seri released Sessegnon, who couldn’t get the ball out of his feet as he bore down on the Tottenham goal, and the onrushing Lloris managed to block his shot at source as he rushed off his line. Spurs might have opened the scoring seconds later when both Chambers and Le Marchand blocked efforts at goal and Eriksen lifted a shot over the bar from the edge of the area as Seri threw himself into a tackle.

Tottenham did take the lead two minutes before the break with a goal of exquisite quality from Moura. The Brazilian winger couldn’t have broken his Premier League duck in finer style – bending an unstoppable shot in off the far post after Chambers and Le Marchand had once again threw themselves in the way of earlier efforts. The goal had cruelly come in the midst of Fulham’s most positive period of play, but the Whites were far from downhearted and launched a second half onslaught on the Tottenham goal that was swiftly rewarded.

The lively Aleksandar Mitrovic fashioned an early chance for himself, showing great strength to withstand a couple of challenges, and crashed an effort off the far-post with Cairney’s follow-up drifting just wide. Fabri produced a strong reaction save to keep out a venomous Dele Alli volley, but Fulham continued to go toe-to-toe with Mauricio Pochettino’s men. They got their reward seven minutes into the second period after a mesmerising spell of 27 consecutive passes when Joe Bryan’s teasing cross caused consternation in the Tottenham defence, Ryan Sessegnon prodded it back across goal and Mitrovic showed great agility to head into the net having been on the floor himself seconds earlier.

Pochettino then turned the contest in Tottenham’s favour by summoning former Fulham midfielder Mousa Dembele from the bench. The Belgian added assurance to Spurs’ midfield and they began to dominate proceedings in a manner not seen since before half-time. The Fulham goal led something of a charmed life with Le Marchand pulling off a brilliant block to save Fabri’s blushes after the Spanish goalkeeper had juggled a deep cross and dropped the ball at the feet of Alli before Kane rifled a drive onto the crossbar.

The damn finally broke with a quarter of an hour to play, when Trippier sparked memories of Russia from earlier in the summer with a superb free-kick to restore Tottenham’s lead. The full-back, making his first Spurs start of the season, bent a delicious finish inside Fabri’s near post from 25 yards after Anguissa’s ambitious forward pass was picked off and Fulham were left short-handed at the back against Kane and Alli. Just three minutes, Kane settled matters with a precise finish into the far corner having stepped away from Chambers after Anguissa had been robbed of possession deep in Fulham territory.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (3-4-2-1): Lloris; Alderweireld, Sánchez (Dembélé 63), Vertonghen; Trippier, Eriksen, Dier (Lamela 73), Davies; Lucas Moura, Dele Alli; Kane (Winks 89). Subs (not used): Vorm, Rose, Aurier, Sissoko.

GOALS: Lucas Moura (43), Trippier (74), Kane (77)

FULHAM (4-3-3): Fabri; Fosu-Mensah, , Bryan (Christie 85′), Chambers, Le Marchand; Anguissa, Seri, Cairney (Johansen 73′); R. Sessegnon, Kamara (Schürrle 88), Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Rico, McDonald, Kebano, Vietto.

GOAL: Mitrovic (52).

REFEREE: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe)..


Kane sparks Spurs stroll


It was as if the FA Cup had enough of giantkillings after a Saturday sprinkled full of shocks. Mauricio Pochettino certainly wasn’t messing around, ditching his heavily-trailed plan of rotating his side following Thursday’s defeat in Belgium, in order to field what was closest to his strongest side to avoid any surprises at Craven Cottage. Harry Kane started at the top of a fluid, attacking line up and Fulham had no answer to the England striker’s prowess in front of goal, failing to recover from the body blow of conceding an early goal after a bright start and losing a second – which had a hint of offside about it – shortly after the restart.

Kane, who loves scoring against Fulham, was back to something approaching his irrepressible best up front but the verve and panache that characterised this performance would have cheered Pochettino as his Spurs side have appeared worryingly listless at times in recent weeks. Slavisa Jokanovic’s side could do little to constrain the flowing football their visitors produced once Kane had prodded them into a 16th minute lead, with the fluidity of their effervescent midfield proving far too much to handle. Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen drifted into the spaces that Kevin McDonald was at least theoretically supposed to guard, but the Fulham defence was so frequently overwhelmed it would be harsh to single out just one culprit.

Scott Malone, who has been a revelation at left back since arriving from Cardiff in the summer, certainly had an afternoon to forget. The enduring image of his traumatic ninety minutes will be the way he fell to earth in almost comical slow motion having been befuddled by the sheer speed of Eriksen as he latched onto Kieran Trippier’s throw. Kane darted effortlessly between the Fulham halves to volley emphatically past Marcus Bettinelli from close range – and Tottenham didn’t look back.

Indeed, the visitors could easily have been out of sight by half-time. They certainly didn’t look like a side who hadn’t found the net from open play in more than six hours with Alli, Son Heung-min and Eriksen rampaging forward at will, but Kane snatched at a couple of chances from fiendishly acute angles and Bettinelli did well to narrow the angles and deny Alli only a matter of minutes after the Tottenham opener. The home side were almost the architects of their downfall three minutes before half time when Bettinelli played the ball straight to Kane, only for a splendidly timed tackle from Stefan Johansen to save the day.

There was little sign of the pretty football that has become the hallmark of Jokanovic’s impressive turnaround at Craven Cottage. Tottenham quickly closed down the space afforded to Tom Cairney, pressing the Fulham playmaker into submission, and Neeskens Kebano was horribly isolated as a lone striker, with the solidarity tactic of playing the ball into the space behind Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld failing as Fulham were unable to put the ball into the same postcode as the Congolese forward. Their best moments came right on the cusp of half time, with Johansen striking wide from 20 yards, a Malone cross narrowly eluding Floyd Ayite and Sone Aluko’s surge down the right culminating a chip that Michel Vorm gathered smartly.

Any hope of a second half comeback was swiftly extinguished. The impressive Harry Winks teamed up with Trippier down the right – where they appeared to have oceans of space all afternoon – and Kane appeared from behind Tim Ream to guide home his second. Fulham were rightly incandescent that the goal had stood, given that the scorer appeared to be more than a yard offside, but in truth a second was the least Spurs’ prolonged dominance deserved. Kane wastefully lifted a finish over the bar after being released by a fine slide-rule ball from Alli, but he wasn’t to be denied his hat-trick for long. Once again his England team-mate provided the assist, deliciously dissecting Kalas and Ream with the pass, and Kane, who had enough time to glance across to check the assistant was again keeping his flag down, whipped a fine finish beyond Bettinelli.

This was a chastening reminder of the gulf between a side scrapping to make up ground on the Championship’s play-off contenders and a team firmly established towards the top of the Premier League. Fulham perked up once Cyriac added a more conventional forward threat and, had McDonald steered a free header underneath the bar from a corner before Kane notched his third, it might have set up a grandstand finish. As it was the game petered out with a period of reminiscence for both sets of fans as Scott Parker and Mousa Dembele returned to face their former sides from the bench to rapturous receptions, but Bettinelli remained focused to the last – making fine reflex saves from Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama.

FULHAM (4-1-2-3): Bettinelli; Odoi, Malone, Kalas, Ream; McDonald (Parker 74); Johansen, Cairney; Aluko (Cyriac 66), Ayité (Ryan Sessegnon 56′), Kebano. Subs (not used): Button, Madl, Piazon, Martin.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-2-3-1):  Vorm; Trippier, Davies, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Winks (Dembélé 79), Wanyama; Eriksen, Alli (Onomah 86), Son Heung-Min; Kane (Sissoko 75). Subs (not used): Pau-Lopez, Winner, Carter-Vickers, Janssen.

GOALS: Kane (16, 51, 73).

REFEREE: Robert Madley (Birmingham).