3 things learned: Tottenham - Fulham
Tottenham - Fulham: Spurs held a 1-0 advantage for much of the game, but the Cottagers hit back late in the second half to earn a point in a 1-1 draw as the two sides completed their rescheduled Premier League clash at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday.
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Harry Kane opened the scoring midway through the first half — though Son Heung-min likely should have done so himself much earlier — and Ivan Cavaleiro hit back in the 74th minute in the latest instance of Tottenham failing to see out a narrow advantage against inferior competition.
A win would have sent Spurs third in the Premier League table; instead, they remain sixth after 17 games played and have won just one of their last six PL games. The point pulls Fulham a little closer to 17th-place Brighton & Hove Albion, who they now trail by just two points after five straight draws.
3 things we learned: Tottenham - Fulham
1. Don’t put the game to bed, pay the price: Yet again, Tottenham established an early lead of the one-goal variety and failed to put their opponent away, only to concede a late equalizer and drop points they had no business losing. At least this time, it wasn’t solely down to Jose Mourinho going ultra-defensive and conceding too much possession, but Spurs superstar attackers — namely Son Heung-min, whose red-hot scoring form has cooled in recent weeks — failing to convert clear-cut scoring chances. Of the five games to not go there way in recent weeks, Tottenham held a 1-0 lead in the first half before conceding an equalizer in the 74th minute or later in three of them. In one of the other two, they were 1-1 with Liverpool prior to a 90th-minute winner for the Reds.
2. Fulham improving as the season goes on: Scott Parker’s side looked like nailed-on relegation fodder in the opening weeks of the 2020-21 season, but Fulham have improved defensively without sacrificing too much of their ability going forward. There’s still an inability to control games and keep possession that must be reckoned with, but they’re not that much worse (on paper) than, say Brighton or Newcastle United.
3. Reguilon won’t be at Tottenham for long: The good news for Spurs fans: you can say, without much retort, you have a top-two left back (still behind Andrew Robertson) in the Premier League this season. The bad news: he has perhaps been too good in his first six months at the club, and Real Madrid activating their $58-million buy-back clause either this summer or next summer feels like a foregone conclusion. The silver lining: Tottenham will turn a decent profit (just over $20 million) on the deal after all is said and done, but they’ll once again find themselves in the market for a reliable left back.
After Fulham had a half-chance or two in the opening quarter-hour, Tottenham had one of their own that seemed an absolute certainty to hit the back of the net in the 18th minute, if not for a spectacular reaction save from Alphonse Areola to deny Son Heung-min from point-black range. Tanguy Ndombele surged through midfield and played Serge Aurier into acres of space, where he crossed the ball into the six-yard box and Son applied the deft redirecting touch that would have snuck under the goalkeeper on most any other occasion.
Five minutes later, Areola denied another point-blank shot on target from Son. Ndombele lifted the ball over the Fulham defense and Son darted toward the six-yard box for a one-on-one header that Areola pushed wide with an acrobatic punch.
The pressure was relentless, though, and Tottenham broke the deadlock just seconds later. Sergio Reguilon served up a sensational curling cross that no one but Kane could reach, and even then it took a perfectly timed diving header from Tottenham’s talisman. Kane gets the plaudits for the goal, but Reguilon’s quality was immense.
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For the third time, Son went inches — this time, quite literally — from bagging his 13th Premier League goal of the season in the 72nd minute, only to ping the front of Areola’s left-hand post after breaking into acres of space and going one-on-one with the Frenchman once again.
Barely 90 seconds later, Cavaleiro rose high to head Ademola Lookman’s cross into the bottom corner with Hugo Lloris too slow to scramble across goal and make the save.
Fulham only grew from there and so nearly went 2-1 ahead in the 78th minute. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was played through one-on-one with Lloris but had very little daylight with which to work by the time he reached the ball.
In one final close-but-not-quite twist for Tottenham, Reguilon sent Son’s cross past Areola in the 89th minute, but the South Korean international was offside before he was played down the left wing.