Tottenham Hotspur strengthened their push for a European place and kept Fulham trapped in the Premier League relegation zone with a 3-1 home victory yesterday.
Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell canceled out Paulinho’s 35th-minute opener for Tottenham, but second-half goals from Harry Kane and Younes Kaboul gave Tim Sherwood’s side all three points.
Sidwell had an opportunity to get his team back into the game with 13 minutes remaining, but after Christian Eriksen had been penalized for handball, he saw his penalty parried by Hugo Lloris.
Champions League qualification remains unlikely for Spurs, who are four points below fourth-placed Arsenal, having played a game more, but they are now six points above Manchester United in the battle for a Europa League berth.
Felix Magath’s Fulham would have climbed out of the bottom three with victory, but instead they find themselves two points from safety, having played a game more than fourth-bottom Norwich City.
Fulham had won their previous two games and despite Magath making five changes to his starting 11, their momentum did not seem to be affected as they took the game to their hosts at a sunny White Hart Lane.
Snapping into challenges and pressing high up the pitch, they procured a clear sight of goal in the third minute, only for Hugo Rodallega to badly slice his shot after springing the Spurs offside trap.
Spurs threatened through Kaboul, who headed over after Fulham failed to clear a corner, but the visitors were quickly back on the attack, with Lloris rushing out to block Rodallega’s attempted lob.
However, the home side stepped things up around the half-hour mark and after visiting goalkeeper David Stockdale had palmed an Aaron Lennon volley onto the post, Spurs went ahead.
Eriksen whipped a wicked free-kick into the Fulham box from the Tottenham right and with Stockdale rooted to the spot, Paulinho had the simple task of volleying home from barely 2m out.
Fulham refused to be cowed, though, and within two minutes they were level.
Spurs defender Zeki Fryers could only prod an attempted clearance into the path of Sidwell and the Fulham midfielder displayed great coolness to dink a shot past the advancing Lloris.
It was an impressive response from the visitors, but Spurs restored their lead just three minutes into the second half.
Aaron Lennon made the goal, cutting inside Ashkan Dejagah on the Spurs right and floating in a fine left-foot cross that Kane glanced past Stockdale to register his third goal in three games.
In reply, Rodallega forced Lloris into a finger-tip save with a bullet header, but in the 62nd minute, Spurs extended their lead.
Another undefendable Eriksen free-kick was the source. This time the Dane’s delivery came from the left, and the cross was every bit as devilish. Kaboul, the grateful recipient on this occasion, scored with his knee.
After Alexander Kacaniklic failed to win a penalty following a tangle with Danny Rose, referee Lee Probert did point to the spot when Eriksen used his upper arm to nudge the ball away from Rodallega.
However, Sidwell could not capitalize as Lloris dived to his right to push away the former Chelsea man’s spot-kick.