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Fulham 0-3 Tottenham Premiership Matchday 15 1213 The Guardian

last updated Sunday 02nd December 2012, 5:55 PM

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John Ashdown at The Guardian

Fulham (0) 0 Tottenham (0) 3

Gareth Bale had an afternoon to forget but for Tottenham, and Jermain Defoe in particular, it was another one to remember. They secured their third win on the bounce and Defoe took his goal tally to 12 as Fulham crumbled in the second-half.

Bale was harshly booked for diving for the second time in four days and the fourth time since the start of last season, and then hobbled off with a hamstring injury. His club, though, leapfrogged West Bromwich Albion into fourth, drew level on points with third-placed Chelsea and, for the optimistic Spurs fan, closed the gap on Manchester City. "We've had a very good week," André Villas-Boas said. "We've managed to change our fortunes."

The scoreline suggests a straightforward game but Fulham began as the better team. In the early skirmishes, Dimitar Berbatov stood out from the melee like neon in fog. A breathtaking touch and pass from halfway almost put Steve Sidwell through after four minutes and 10 minutes later a glorious flick sent Ashkan Dejagah away down the right. His cross evaded the Bulgarian but dropped loose to Kerim Frei, who really should have done better than to spoon high and wide.

In between those moments of majesty, Clint Dempsey, whose every touch was booed on his return to Craven Cottage, also had a fine chance to open the scoring, but having done the hard part in wriggling past two tackles on the edge of the box, pushed his shot wide of Mark Schwarzer's goal.

As Berbatov drifted out of the game so did Fulham, and it was no real surprise when Tottenham took the lead, although the manner in which they did was somewhat unusual. Sandro was afforded too much space 40 yards from goal and though his low shot was not struck with great venom, it managed to squirm through the palms of the usually reliable Schwarzer. "From the bench it looked a stoppable shot," said a disappointed Martin Jol.

For Bale it was something of a nightmare afternoon, with one free-kick that would have found a better home down the road at Twickenham, several miss-hit crosses and, in the first-half that booking. As against Liverpool in midweek he appeared hard done by, with Sidwell apparently catching the winger's leg with his own. Bale's reputation, whether deserved or not, now seems to precede him.

"It's difficult. Gareth is so fast that it is difficult to judge situations," Villas-Boas said. "He has suffered big injuries to his ankles before and sometimes he wants to protect himself a little bit. He might put his body in situations where the referee thinks that he is diving and he has suffered from it in the last two games. Now he is near a suspension for two unfair yellow cards. You gain a reputation for being a diver unfairly sometimes."

Bale limped down the tunnel with 28 minutes to go - he will definitely miss Spurs's Europa League match against Panathinaikos on Thursday and is expected to be out for up to two weeks - to be replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson, who took no time to create Tottenham's second. The Icelandic midfielder eased past the flatfooted Philippe Senderos and crossed low for Defoe to tap home. Five minutes later the defence were cut apart once more, with Dempsey putting Defoe through for his second.

Fulham are now without a win in seven and have failed to score in their last three but Jol insisted he was not worried about the team's form. "Brede Hangeland is coming back, Bryan Ruiz will be back next week," said the Fulham manager, "so hopefully we can get some points on the board and get back on the winning track."

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