Tottenham Hotspur forced to hope for a Bayern Munich win to secure Champions League football
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Fulham 0
White Hart Lane
Monday 14 May 2012
The Premier League season is over but for Tottenham Hotspur, the future remains uncertain.
Fourth place in the table usually guarantees a place in the next edition of the Champions League. Spurs secured that position with this victory, achieved thanks to goals in either half from Emmanuel Adebayor and substitute Jermain Defoe, yet they must wait to know the winner of Saturday's final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea to know their destiny. Meanwhile, the sight of Kyle Walker on crutches after limping off in the second half could be a worry for England manager Roy Hodgson.
Should Chelsea win, Spurs would play in the Europa League next season; an unenviable position for supporters and hierarchy alike.
Without the lure of playing in Europe's main club competition, Tottenham may find it hard to hold on to their best players. Chairman Daniel Levy resisted Chelsea's attempts to sign Luka Modric last summer, but the Croatian midfielder has still not signed the £100,000-a-week contract offered to him last autumn, and manager Harry Redknapp admitted recently he could not be certain Modric would stay.
Redknapp has expressed more confidence about the future of Gareth Bale, another Spurs player coveted by many. Yet Redknapp had to deny reports from Spain that Barcelona were close to a deal for Bale, who has been equivocal about his position in recent weeks, and has spoken before of his wish one day to play abroad.
In his end-of-season address to fans in the programme, Levy insisted Spurs would seek to retain their stars, but the chairman will cheer for Bayern with all his heart on Saturday.
Redknapp's team did their job here but if Chelsea prevail in Munich, they will regret the run of only one win in nine early in 2012, which saw them slip from title contention. Solid form in that period would surely have guaranteed Champions League football.
After Adebayor had given Spurs an early lead and West Bromwich had gone 2-1 in front against Arsenal, optimism soared. The eventual 3-2 win for Arsène Wenger's team leaves their north London rivals in limbo for a week.
With minds at White Hart Lane also drifting towards events at the Hawthorns, it was a strange atmosphere in the early minutes. Adebayor's goal in the second minute – a composed finish from the forward after he drifted away from Aaron Hughes to collect Rafael van der Vaart's return pass – was exactly what the home team wanted, yet their fans' joy turned quickly to anxiety when they heard Arsenal had taken the lead at West Bromwich.
Bale moved to left-back in the absence through injury and suspension respectively of Benoît Assou-Ekotto and Danny Rose, leaving Aaron Lennon, Modric and Van der Vaart to work in the space behind Adebayor.
It was a purposeful, inventive start by the home team, yet as their supporters celebrated news of two Albion goals, Spurs' players seemed to become nervous. After 20 minutes had passed, Fulham, who were without injured midfielder Clint Dempsey, began to take control and Spurs' jitters were clear in their hurried passing and uncertain defending.
They were still making chances at the other end – Van der Vaart shot just wide of the left post after Walker, Lennon and Adebayor had combined effectively – but their work without the ball did not convince. Seven minutes before half-time, John Arne Riise ran unchallenged from inside his own half and forced Brad Friedel to parry his strike from the edge of the penalty area. The visitors came even closer a minute later when Friedel did not deal well with Moussa Dembélé's low effort but, luckily for Spurs, William Gallas was alert and put the ball behind for a corner before Pavel Pogrebnyak could pounce.
The impressive Dembélé came even closer early in the second half, his shot shaving the post, before Defoe, who replaced Van der Vaart on the hour, turned Lennon's deflected cross past Mark Schwarzer from six yards.
Walker has been one of Tottenham's best players this season, but he is now an injury concern ahead of the European Championship. The right-back, who has been playing with a broken toe, limped off early in the second half after falling awkwardly towards the end of the first.
Injury could rule Parker out of the euros
Scott Parker will today have an injection on an Achilles niggle that Harry Redknapp believes will determine if he can play for England in the European Championship. Although the midfielder was optimistic yesterday that he would be fit, Redknapp was more cautious: "He will have an injection on Monday. I am hoping that it will clear up in six or seven days. If the injection doesn't clear it up and he has to have an op, he won't be fit for England." Meanwhile, rightback Kyle Walker left White Hart Lane on crutches last night after limping off in the second half, but he should be fit for Euro 2012.
Spurs: FRIEDEL, WALKER, KABOUL, GALLAS, BALE, LENNON, SANDRO, LIVERMORE, MODRIC, VAN DER VAART, ADEBAYOR
Fulham: SCHWARZER, J RIISE, HANGELAND, HUGHES, KELLY, FREI, DIARRA, MURPHY, DUFF, POGREBNYAK, DEMBELE
Scorers. Spurs: Adebayor 2, Defoe 63
Substitutes: Tottenham Nelson (Walker, 49), Defoe (Van Der Vaart, 60), Smith (Kaboul, 76). Fulham Kasami (Murphy, 67).
Booked: Tottenham none. Fulham Hangeland, Murphy.
Man of the match Lennon. Match rating 6/10.
Possession Tottenham 55% Fulham 45%.
Attempts on target: Tottenham 9 Fulham 7.
Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire). Attendance: 36,256.
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