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Tottenham 3-1 Fulham Prem 35 1314 Mirror

last updated Monday 21st April 2014, 9:16 PM
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Steve Stammers at The Mirror

Tottenham (1) 3-1 (1) Fulham

One set of players playing for their futures, the other for their Premier League existence.

The deciding factor? Class from Tottenham and rank bad defending from Fulham that explained their presence in the bottom three with games running out fast.

The temptation for Spurs was to eye a place on the beach with a top-four finish now only a mathematical possibility.

But there is still passion in their play and evidence of that came near the end when goalkeeping coach Tony Parks was enraged by slack defending from Danny Rose and was not slow to let him know. Rose did not agree - and a finger-pointing argument continued at the final whistle. They still care, all right.

And no-one cares more than Christian Eriksen. From the mass influx last summer, he has proved to the most successful import. As Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood observed: "Some players are content to participate in matches. He wants to affect them."

The key ploy came at half-time when Sherwood gave the Dane a free role rather than restrict him to a left-wing berth.

"We needed someone to collect the ball. Younes Kaboul was having to hit it long," said Sherwood.

It worked a dream. Eriksen used his immaculate touch and impressive vision to torment and expose Fulham - and his delivery from free-kicks and corners were to prove crucial as he set up two goals.

The problem for Fulham is inadequate defending. That - and running into a goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris who is " genuinely world-class", according to Sherwood.

But it is at the back that manager Felix Magath knows Fulham are vulnerable. "It was not good that we let in two goals from free-kicks," he said. "That is what disturbs me. "

As well it should because they twice left Tottenham players unmarked a yard out. Lloris had already shown his ability by denying Hugo Rodallega in a one-on-one situation. After 35 minutes, Fulham were left reeling and, if they are honest, embarrassed as Spurs went ahead. Eriksen floated in the free-kick and Paulinho was left unmarked to fire into the net.

Within two minutes, however, Fulham were level thank to the never-say-die attitude of Steven Sidwell.

He rode a challenge from Paulinho, accelerated towards the Tottenham goal and Zeki Fryers played an involuntary through ball back to Sidwell who kept his balance and composure to slip the ball past Lloris.

Two minutes into the second half Fulham were again found wanting in an aerial duel. Aaron Lennon crossed from the right and Harry Kane eased his way in front of John Heitinga to head past David Stockdale.

On the hour, it was effectively game over. Heitinga was left gasping by Rose's surge down the left and scythed down the full back.

The yellow card for re Dutchman was the least of Fulham's problems as Eriksen directed the free-kick to the far post and this time it was Kaboul who was left in splendid isolation to score.

The loss of Scott Parker was a blow but Fulham still had the ever-willing Sidwell. And Tottenham still had Lloris who magnificently tipped away a Hugo Rodallega header which even had the Colombian offering his congratulations.

But the best was still to come from Lloris. After 76 minutes came Eriksen's one moment of blemish when he handled in the area. Sidwell was given the chance to inspire a late Fulham comeback but though his penalty was well-struck, Lloris was equal to it.

"I still feel we can stay up," said Magath. "We were not expecting to win here but we can stay up by winning at home."

Not exactly the positive approach to yesterday, then.

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