Tottenham 2-1 Fulham: Spurs hold on to one-goal lead as Kane equals London derby record
(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media - Getty Images)

A goal from Pierre-Emile Hojberg in the first half and Harry Kane's 43rd London derby goal in the second secured all three points for Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon. 

Antonio Conte's team controlled proceedings throughout the match, but having conceded late on to Aleksander Mitrovic, it opened the pitch up for a frantic end to their contest against Fulham.

Richarlison thought he had sealed all three points for the home side after he found the net for the first time at his new club in the 90th minute. A VAR intervention adjudged him offside, and an additional six minutes gave the Cottagers hope of dishevelling Spurs.

Spurs, however, survived Fulham's late resurgence to record their fourth victory of the league campaign. The north London side is yet to lose in the top flight in 2022/23. 

The win for Tottenham moves them up to second in the Premier League table, while Fulham will be pleased with their resilience to give Conte's men a run for their money as they sit comfortably in 10th.

  • Story of the match

After a 1-1 draw against West Ham in midweek, Antonio Conte brought five fresh faces into his starting eleven against Fulham as he searched for a solution to combatting the busy schedule and ramping up the pressure on those above Tottenham in the league.

Handed a boost ahead of the encounter with Cristian Romero and Rodrigo Bentancur returning from injury, Conte selected both in his starting XI. Clement Lenglet also came into the backline in place of Ben Davies, while Ryan Sessegnon received the nod at left wing-back ahead of Ivan Perisic.

The biggest news for Spurs came via a first start for Richarlison, who took up Dejan Kulusevski's position in the attacking trident. 

Changes for Fulham, however, were few and far between. While the same starting eleven that laboured to a 2-1 midweek victory against Brighton remained unchanged, the only dissimilarity saw a strengthening on the bench as Willian and Vinicius were among those to join on deadline day.

If the visitors were to get anything at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, they needed to showcase the same energy and tenacity as they did in their last fixture. 

Although coming to nothing, they did show just that early on, through a gut-busting run from Bobby De Cordova-Reid. Had it not been for Ryan Sessegnon's alertness to extinguish the danger efficiently, The Cottagers could have made a goalscoring start to proceedings.

Instead, the isolated chance that Silva's side got in the first five minutes was met by a host of Spurs opportunities. Moments later, Bernd Leno was forced into making his first contribution in the match to keep Kane out from his low shot.

This was then paired with Richarlison heading over from a Son cross, portraying that Conte's attacking valves weren't prepared to give the Fulham backline - which has started all six games together - an easy day. 

Clearly, the disappointment that ensued after failing to come out on top in their London derby against West Ham added fuel to the fire in Spurs' ambitions to bounce back on Saturday. 

Heung-Min Son has not been the same talisman since he clutched the golden boot upon last season's conclusion, but against Fulham, he became the conductor in everything good about Spurs' chance creation in the first half.

From architect to finisher, the South Korean international almost scored by being on the end of a chance himself on 33 minutes. Kane met his darting run with a sublime pass, but Spurs, despite their dominance, simply couldn't ruffle the net as Son smashed his strike off the crossbar.

Spurs cut more shapes of frustrated figures in front of goal shortly after when Son once again encountered space to feather a cross into Lenglet, whose resulting header found the side-netting. 

Nevertheless, with their ninth shot of the game, Conte's men eventually found a quantum leap. Hojberg picked up the ball after some slick play from Richarlison to burst through a congestion of players and slot the ball into the bottom corner.

The opener gave the home side a deserved lead after they controlled the outcome of the first half, maintaining anything Fulham had to offer in attack and procuring a surfeit of chances to keep the fans off their seats in the first 45 minutes. 

Conte's only headache at the break was that his side wasn't winning by more goals. Knowing Fulham's squad depth, particularly after deadline day, Spurs needed to attack the second half with the same velocity as the first to put an axe to their grind.

Chances without conviction

Spurs continued to create chances when they came out for the second half. Conte's halftime team talk didn't do much to solve the unmistakable lack of conviction in their shots, though, as two opportunities in two minutes were fired wide of the target early in the restart.

Firstly, Kane was unable to steer his shot away from the Fulham defence after Conte's plan to sit deep almost paid dividends. In a repeat of his first effort, Kane's second shot was also blocked.

It could have been two opportunities that Spurs were made to rue moments later after Hugo Lloris made his first save of the match with 54 minutes on the clock. 

Aleksander Mitrovic had struggled from a void of service before his first chance of the match, and it was only because of a bit of luck that the Serbian could test Lloris. A speculative shot from 20 yards out was taken among a crowd of defenders, which led the strike to have defected, making the French goalkeeper tip it over the crossbar. 

Back to business

Just as Fulham's isolated chance in the first half had proven to be no more than a fly against the wind, Mitrovic's hopeful shot followed the trend likewise.

Soon enough, Spurs were back to business and producing chances themselves. Richarlison scuffed Emerson Royal's cross on the hour mark - Sessegnon was alive to the situation, picked up the pieces, and his close-range shot was saved magnificently by Leno.

Spurs were made to work hard for their second goal, and although Son couldn't pounce on a defensive mistake from Palhinha, Kane would inject relief into his team's creative endeavours with a goal 15 minutes from time. 

Sessegnon's initial shot from a loose ball in the box rebounded off a defender, gifting the ball to the Englishman - who made no mistake in converting his strike to level Thierry Henry's London derby goalscoring record of  43. 

A late scare from the visitors

Life as a Tottenham Hotspur supporter is never plain-sailing. In recent years, moments in football that denote sudden slips and tumbles have been brandished with the term 'Spursy'. 

And if there is anyone in the Fulham ranks who could cause a problem, despite not showing signs of it all game, Mitrovic would be that man. 

The Serbian latched onto a pass from Tete before beating Romero on the left of the box and arrowing a powerful shot into the top right corner to notch his fifth goal in six Premier League games.

A deflected shot from the Serbian also followed to frighten Conte, but as close as The Cottagers were to an equaliser, they were equally as close to losing by more than one goal.

Spurs hold on to a one-goal lead

The complexion of the fixture changed in dramatic style once Mitrovic found an unexpected consolation goal, and it paved way for an exciting finish to a game that should have been all Spurs'. 

It led to a frantic fight for a goal on either side. While Fulham battled well to rescue a point, Richarlison took the initiative himself to grab a third to sink Marco Silva.

Scoring his first goal for the club, seemingly at least, made for a perfect opportunity to whip the top off and celebrate with the fans. However, the 90th-minute strike was deemed offside. Sheepish in his redressing, Richarlison will have to wait another week for his first celebration. 

Now the joint leading goalscorer in London derbies, Kane was as reliable as ever from his deep striking role against Fulham. Although Son was much improved from his dismal start to the season, Kane still proved that he is Conte's most important attacking asset.

Without his second-half strike and tireless defending from the front, Spurs could have suffered from Fulham's late resurgence a lot more detrimentally without him in the team. 

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