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Fulham stuns Spurs - The Guardian

last updated Thursday 12th September 2002, 11:36 AM
Fulham (0) 3- 2 (2) Tottenham
Fulham spoiled the Tottenham party last night.Just when Spurs were ready to celebrate the fact that they could go top of the Premiership with Robbie Keane on the bench, everything went wrong for them.

Two goals ahead at half-time, Glenn Hoddle's team succumbed to strong Fulham pressure and were overhauled by two goals in the last six minutes.

  Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque  
  Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque's steady nerves ensured that he was able to convert his penalty and equalise the game.
Goals by Dean Richards and Teddy Sheringham looked to have put Spurs in early control but Fulham refused to admit defeat. Junichi Inamoto pulled one goal back, Steed Malbranque equalised from a penalty and then Sylvain Legwinski struck the winner in the final minute of injury time.

Hoddle had sprung a surprise by starting with Keane, his £7m signing from Leeds United, on the bench.

Instead, Spurs struck with the tried and tested partnership of Sheringham and Les Ferdinand, with the latter returning to the ground where he enjoyed several successful seasons with QPR.

Hoddle had hinted beforehand that Tottenham supporters should not expect instant miracles from Keane but few had anticipated this. With Spurs 2-0 up at half-time, though, and Ferdinand involved in the move which provided Sheringham with the second, his thinking looked sound.

The decision to stick with the Sheringham-Ferdinand axis had almost been spectacularly vindicated inside 10 minutes. From Matthew Etherington's cross, Sheringham laid the ball into Ferdinand's path and gave his strike partner a clear sight of goal. As Pierre Wome, Fulham's debutant left-back, closed down, Ferdinand screwed his shot wide of the far post.

That was a rare clear opening in the early stages, though both teams were doing their utmost to play neat football and create chances. Fulham had begun fluently but Goran Bunjevcevic was doing a useful job in the holding role in a Spurs midfield lacking the injured Jamie Redknapp.

It was reminiscent of much of Fulham's play last season that, despite periods of possession, they did not threaten goal seriously for half an hour. Their final pass too often let them down, with Louis Saha providing a poor cross and Luis Boa Morte similarly wasteful.

Although Legwinski brought a comfortable low save from Kasey Keller, that was a rare occasion when one of Fulham's central midfielders provided an additional goal threat. Inamoto, scorer of an Intertoto hat-trick against Bologna, was kept quiet.

The value of getting forward from deep was illustrated again when Legwinski had a shot deflected just wide from outside the box after a good run by Hayles. With the game tight, it seemed a surge from midfield or a set piece would provide any breakthrough.

Match Stats Fulham Spurs
Goal attempts 13 7
On Target 8 4
Fouls 8 11
Corners 9 6
Off-side 2 2
Yellows 0 1
Reds 0 0
source: guardian

Simon Davies, an increasingly influential presence this season, did test Edwin van der Sar and his willingness to put Wome under pressure was rewarded with a corner from which Spurs scored. Milenko Acimovic floated the ball in and Richards rose above Zat Knight to beat Van der Sar with a powerful header.

Spurs were now in complete control and Fulham's defence looked shaky. The home side survived a couple more scares before Tottenham scored a second just before half-time. Ferdinand and Sheringham were both involved - Ferdinand finding Etherington, whose pass was neatly finished by Sheringham.

Boa Morte, Fulham's most dangerous attacker, disappeared at the interval to be replaced by Malbranque. The Frenchman was immediately a lively presence but Fulham were still unable to muster a shot on goal and continued to look uncertain at the back.

Although Jean Tigana's team had plenty of ball, Spurs were defending doggedly and breaking dangerously. Acimovic caught the eye with his passing and set pieces, and had a fine header ruled out for offside.

Gradually Fulham cranked up the pressure but Keller produced a fine save from Sean Davis's long-range shot then saw Barry Hayles waste a chance before Inamoto pulled a goal back from the edge of the area to give Fulham hope.

Fulham were fortunate not to have Wome sent off for a dreadful tackle when he caught Chris Perry in the face with his studs. Then Steve Finnan hit the bar before Malbranque equalised from the penalty spot with six minutes remaining after Anthony Gardner wrestled Hayles to the floor.

Legwinski turned the match on its head in the final minute of stoppage time when he ran on to a through ball and held off Gardner before beating Keller for the winner.

Van der Sar, Finnan, Knight, Goma, Wome (Collins 81), Davis, Legwinski, Inamoto, Boa Morte (Malbranque 45), Saha (Hayles 21), Sava.
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Melville.
Goals: Inamoto 68, Malbranque 84 pen, Legwinski 90.

Keller, Bunjevcevic, Perry (Doherty 80), Richards, Gardner, Thatcher, Acimovic (Ziege 73), Etherington (Iversen 84), Davies, Ferdinand, Sheringham.
Subs Not Used: Hirschfeld, Keane.
Booked: Thatcher.
Goals: Richards 36, Sheringham 44.
Att: 16,757
Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).
Source The Guardian by Jon Brodkin
Since 1998
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