For match photos, scroll to PHOTOSTREAM above left; for match stats, click on the stats tab. Manager reaction below
Rene Meulensteen's tenure at Fulham got under way with a defeat as his side were beaten 2-1 by Tottenham at Craven Cottage. Having taken over first-team affairs from Martin Jol on Sunday, Meulensteen saw his side turn in an organised display but they were unable to avoid a sixth successive league defeat. Ashkan Dejagah's first Fulham goal looked to have secured them a win but Vlad Chiriches' long-range strike after 73 minutes brought the visitors level, before substitute Lewis Holtby wrapped up the points eight minutes from time with a superb strike from outside the area to end a four-game winless run for Andre Villas-Boas' side.
Meulensteen made seven changes from Saturday's defeat against West Ham, with Dimitar Berbatov returning from illness.However, captain Brede Hangeland missed out with a back problem, while there was no place in the squad for Darren Bent. Villas-Boas meanwhile made three changes from the Spurs side that drew against Manchester United at White Hart Lane, with Etienne Capoue making his first Premier League start since suffering an ankle injury against Arsenal in September. Erik Lamela and Jermain Defoe were also brought in, with Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado on the bench and Mousa Dembele missing out altogether.
And Defoe was the first to threaten for the visitors, stinging the palms of Maarten Stekelenburg with a fierce shot after four minutes, before Berbatov's heavy touch prevented him getting an effort in on goal after a neat pass from Alexander Kacaniklic. Berbatov, playing against his former club, threatened again after 23 minutes, swivelling and firing an effort low to Hugo Lloris' left, with the France international producing a smart save in his 50th Tottenham appearance.
Paulinho then weaved through a number of Fulham defenders and fired over the bar from a central position inside the area after good work in the build-up from Defoe, who was again the creator after half an hour, laying a ball infield for Lamela who curled just wide of the post. Pajtim Kasami superbly blocked Sandro's powerful strike inside the area seven minutes into the second half before Fulham took the lead.
After a lofted pass from Berbatov, Dejagah managed to get the ball under control before finishing smartly past Lloris. The visitors piled on the pressure and were rewarded when Chiriches levelled with an expertly-hit half-volley from a long way out. Defoe jumped clear of his effort before the ball found its way into the back of the net off Stekelenburg's right-hand post with Holtby striking in the last 10 minutes to steal a win for the visitors.
Berbatov hit the post late on for the Fulham but the chances ended there.
Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen: "It is very, very hard to take. I thought we were good, well-organised. I said to the players before the game I want an inspired performance and from a tactical point of view a disciplined performance. We got that and it got us to a point where we were on top and winning 1-0. That first goal of Tottenham's came out of the sky. (It was a) good strike but it smelled a little bit of offside, looking back to (Jermain) Defoe's position.
"The players responded well after that and (even after) a great strike from Holtby we kept on going and threatening the goal. A defeat is very hard to take."
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas: "We have been waiting a long time for this win, it was important to finish the job and get the win.
"It puts us back on track and [we] jump a couple of positions in the table, it's another away win which is important.It was very important, [their] goal came in a good period for us. But it was end-to end stuff, not a lot of control but it was frenetic.
"To keep in touch with people at the top was important, especially after some surprising results this evening. It was important for us to be in there among the top teams to take our challenge through. December and January are very important months in the Premier League."
|08 Dec 2013||v Aston Villa (H)|
|14 Dec 2013||v Everton (A)|
|21 Dec 2013||v Man City (H)|
|26 Dec 2013||v Norwich (A)|
|28 Dec 2013||v Hull (A)|
|01 Jan 2014||v West Ham (H)|