Match Report: Sandro Raniere and Jermain Defoe turn joke back on Chelsea
Fulham 0 Tottenham 3
Maybe appointing an unpopular manager can succeed. While Andre Villas-Boas never encountered the outright hostility endured by Rafael Benitez at Chelsea the Portuguese was a distinctly unwelcome summer replacement for the largely loved Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane.
Those Chelsea fans who mocked their north London rivals when Roman Abramovich's cast-off pitched up at Tottenham are laughing no longer. Spurs are now behind Chelsea only on goal difference nine points in seven days having catapulted them into the fourth Champions League qualifying place.
Villas-Boas' joy was not, though, unconfined after an ultimately comfortable victory secured by a freak 40-yard goal from Sandro and a well-taken brace by Jermain Defoe. Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson both succumbed to hamstring injuries. Neither, though, were serious, said Villas-Boas who forecast Dawson would be out for a week, Bale maybe two.
It was injury added to insult for Bale who was booked in he first half for diving after being brought down by Steve Sidwell. “It was harsh,” said Villas-Boas. “You can gain an unfair reputation for being a diver. Gareth has suffered big injuries to ankles and sometimes he wants to protect himself, he is suffering for it as he may put his body in positions where the referees think he is diving.”
The manager added: “We have had a very good week. We have changed the momentum of our results. It was a game where one goal can unlock the game and we were fortunate to get it. It was good for Sandro, he is such an important player for us, and Defoe has a clinical touch.”
The supporters of both sides were buoyed by the pre-match news of Chelsea's latest embarrassment but attention quickly turned to their own London derby. If Clint Dempsey felt unloved at Fulham while he was still at the club he is certainly unloved now. His early touches were booed and there were loud – and relieved – cheers when he shot wide after bewildering both Fulham centre-backs in the second minute.
For the rest of the half the few chances that were created fell to Fulham who had, in Dimitar Berbatov, the most talented player on the pitch by a distance. But for an errant linesman's flag his sublime 22nd-minute pass would have left Mladen Petric clear on goal. Prior to that Karim Frei shot over from Ashkan Dejagah's cross when he should have done better while afterwards Hugo Lloris made a sharp save from Mladen Petric following a near post cross by John Arne Riise. Petric later shot over on the turn.
The second period began as quietly as the first then Sandro collected the ball by the centre circle, advanced a few yards unchallenged, and decide to chance his luck. His low drive appeared to catch Mark Schwarzer by surprise and the goalkeeper could only turn it against the post and into the net.
Five minutes later Bale pulled up in his follow through after having a shot saved. Spurs' afternoon looked to have taken a bad turn but Bale's replacement, Gylfi Sigurdsson, then drove into the box, skipping past Senderos, before squaring for Defoe to score. Spurs completed a three-goal 21-minute burst when Dempsey sent Defoe clear as Senderos tried to play offside.
Fulham are now without a win in seven games, a goal in five hours, and have taken one point in 12. Fortunately Newcastle, who are in even worse form, are their next opponents and captain Brede Hangeland will be back from suspension to play them. His understudy, Phillippe Senderos, was at fault for both Defoe's goals.
“Hangeland and [Bryan] Ruiz will be back next week,” said Jol. He added: In the first half I thought we had better opportunities than them and it was very disappointing to concede three goals out of nothing. We have started to make mistakes. The first goal looked a stoppable shot. That changed everything.”
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