Foootball

Tottenham’s Secure Win At Craven Cottage

Tottenham Hotspur left Craven Cottage with a potentially priceless three points after a 1-0 victory over Fulham in a match that will be remembered more for the influence VAR had on the result.

Jose Mourinho took his critics on directly with his team selection on Thursday evening, picking all four of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Gareth Bale to start against the relegation-threatened Cottagers.

Now what will get lost in the shuffle of the result is the fact that this vastly well-paid forward line actually failed to find the net for Spurs on an evening when yet again it was rigid, defensive football that took their coach’s eye.

A 19th minute own-goal from Tosin Adarabioyo was enough to separate the two sides, with Fulham having more shots, more shots on target and significantly more possession than their opponents.

Not that Mourinho will care, the result takes his team onto 42 points, just one behind the defending champions, Liverpool, and four adrift of fourth-placed Everton, with the battle for Champions League qualification really hotting up.

A smart Alli flick following Son’s cross across the face of Fulham’s goal found the back of the net, but replays showed it was missing the goal by some distance before the on-loan Manchester City defender got an unwilling touch on the ball, sending it beyond Alphonse Areola.

Spurs then tightened up, trying to protect their lead, but it was Fulham who felt they should have taken at least a share of the spoils.

VAR has come under the microscope in the Premier League even more so after the Chelsea-Manchester United match on Sunday, and once again the system had an impact on a result, with Fulham having a goal chalked off just after the hour.

Spurs failed to clear the ball on three occasions in what was a rather comedic example of elite-level defending, before Josh Maja fired the ball into the net.

However, VAR confirmed that a potential handball by Mario Lemina was being investigated, and it was deemed that the Gabon international had played the ball with his hand.

Now, the ball ricocheted off Lemina’s hand to set up Maja, but Fulham will argue that the midfielder had no way of knowing what had happened, given the short distance, and that a penalty wouldn’t have been given had the roles been reversed.

The recriminations from this decision will likely continue, especially as Fulham fight against the drop, but Spurs are now looking up at a top four finish, after holding out a last-ditch onslaught from the hosts to claim all three points in a London derby.

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