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Fulham 1-2 Tottenham Prem 14 1314 Daily Mail

last updated Thursday 05th December 2013, 12:38 PM
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Sami Mokbel at Daily Mail

Fulham (0) 1 Tottenham (0) 2

Welcome to Premier League management, Rene.

First came the ecstasy: Ashkan Dejagah firing Fulham in front. Then the agony: Vlad Chiriches' brilliant equaliser for Tottenham.

Then the heartbreaker: Lewis Holtby's late winner.

If there was a 90 minutes that summed up the roller-coaster ride Rene Meulensteen will endure over the next few months, then this was it. And it all came in his first game as a manager in England's top-flight.

'It's very hard to take,' said Meulenesteen.

'I wanted an inspired and disciplined performance and we got that. I went through every emotion tonight, but this is what the Premier League is all about.'

Indeed, it was quite a baptism for Meulensteen - but his opposite number has his own problems.

Andre Villas-Boas must have been fearing another week of speculation about his job before Chiriches and Holtby's interventions.

But last Sunday's 2-2 draw against Manchester United, the Europa League win over Tromso and Wednesday night's victory represents a good response after the embarrassing 6-0 defeat at Manchester City.

'Yes, since the 6-0 we've shown resilience, it's going well for us,' said Villas-Boas.

'To complete the bounce back it would be great to win at Sunderland, it would show we are alive and show we want to be in the top spots.

Meulensteen started with Dimitar Berbatov despite his agent saying earlier in the day that the Bulgarian wants to quit Fulham next month.

The home fans weren't quite so forgiving, though, booing Berbatov when his name was read out ahead of kick off. Nevertheless, Meulensteen insisted he will try to persuade the former Manchester United striker to stay.

In total, the Dutch manager made seven changes from the side that started the 3-0 defeat against West Ham on Saturday - Martin Jol's final match in charge.

Likewise, his opposing manager wasn't backwards in making alterations, making three changes from the side that drew against United.

The Portuguese dropped £26million striker Roberto Soldado for Jermain Defoe, while Erik Lamela and Etienne Capoue were recalled in place of Nacer Chadli and the injured Mousa Dembele.

As if the desire for Meulensteen to impress on his big night wasn't large enough, the presence of owner Shahid Khan at Craven Cottage would not have eased any nerves.

Defoe wasted the first chance of the night after five minutes; latching onto Capoue's pass before forcing a good save from Maarten Stekelenburg following John Arne Riise's misplaced pass.

Berbatov nearly turned the boos to cheers six minutes later, but his glancing header from Giorgos Karagounis's free-kick fell straight to Hugo Lloris.

Karagounis himself went close three minutes later, forcing Lloris into a decent save low to his right with a firecracker from the edge of the box before the French keeper brilliantly denied Berbatov in the 22nd minute. Next it was Fulham's turn to be let off the hook, Sascha Riether's dreadful attempt to control Michael Dawson's long clearance left Defoe in acres of space; instead of shooting the striker passed to Paulinho but with just Stekelenburg to beat the Brazilian wildly blazed over.

Fulham threatened again in the 24th minute, Dejagah heading narrowly over from Karagounis' corner before Lamela missed an excellent chance after good work from Paulinho and Defoe.

Holtby came on for Capoue at half-time but the substitution did not effect the visitors as Defoe, Holtby and Sandro all threatened early in the second half.

But then Meulensteen's big moment arrived.

Berbatov took advantage of a mix-up between Dawson and Paulinho to float a beautiful ball into Dejagah's path, and the Fulham striker cooly scored the first goal of Meulensteen's reign - and his first for the club - firing past Lloris in the 56th minute.

Meulensteen was euphoric on the bench, Villas-Boas on the other hand needed a response.

And Spurs somehow clinched victory from the jaws of defeat with a late second half double.

First, Chiriches hammered home a brilliant half-volley from 35 yards after Kyle Walker's corner was half cleared in the 73rd minute.

And then eight minutes from time, another wonder strike, this time from Holtby, secured Spurs only their third win in 10 Premier League games.

But even then Villas-Boas men needed a two super saves from Hugo Lloris, first from Bryan Ruiz and then Berbatov in the dying seconds, to clinch victory.

It was exactly what the Portuguese boss, who confirmed Jan Vertonghen picked up an ankle injury in the closing stages, needed after a difficult couple of weeks.

Meulensteen will hope he can start to follow suit.

Fulham: Stekelenburg 7; Riether 6, Senderos 6, Hughes 6, Riise 7; Parker 6; Dejagah 6, Karagounis 7 (Sidwell 62'), Kasami 6, Kacaniklic 7 (Duff 85'); Berbatov 7
Subs not used:Stockdale, Zverotic, Boateng, Sidwell, Duff, Taarabt, Ruiz

Booked: Kasami

Goals: Dejagah 56

Tottenham: Lloris 7; Walker 6, Dawson 6, Chiriches 6, Vertonghen 6; Capoue 6 (Holtby 46mins 6), Sandro 6 (Chadli 69'); Lamela 6 (Townsend 78'), Paulinho 7, Lennon 6; Defoe 7
Subs not used:Friedel, Naughton, Chadli, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Soldado

Booked: Capoue

Goals: Chiriches 73', Holtby 80'

Referee: Mark Clattenburg 7

Attendance: 24,128

Man of the match: Kacaniklic

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