Fulham vs. Tottenham: Player Ratings from Spurs' 3-0 Win at Craven Cottage
For nearly the first hour of this match, you could be forgiven for thinking Tottenham's visit to Fulham on Saturday afternoon would end in a stalemate.
After all, both teams had combined for just two shots on goal, and neither side was taking the chances on offense they needed to.
But when Sandro took the ball into Fulham's half in the 55th minute and rocketed a shot from nearly 40 yards out, it looked as though it took Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer for a surprise.
The bigger surprise is that Schwarzer missed volleying the shot. It banked off the left post and broke the stalemate.
After that, the proverbial floodgates opened, and Fulham couldn't get them shut.
Jermain Defoe scored two more goals in the final half-hour to give him four in the last three matches. Visiting Tottenham pulled up to fourth in the league table.
Tottenham may have captured a much-needed victory away from White Hart Lane, and they're in the driver's seat for a Champions League place next season but how did the individuals grade out?
Check out my ratings, and let me know if you agree.
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Hugo Lloris: 8.0
I'll be the first to admit that in the battle between Hugo Lloris and Brad Friedel, I'm a Friedel man through and through.
Not only is Friedel the consummate blue-collar player—picked up on a free loan years ago, he worked his way through lower-tier leagues all over the world—he's closer to 42 than 41 and still capable of playing at the highest level of English soccer.
With that said, I thought newcomer Lloris put in a fantastic performance, as solid in between the posts as he was commanding in the box. His 6'2" frame was put to good use thanks to a handful of good Fulham runs.
Lloris only faced two shots that were real threats, but during Fulham corners and set-pieces, he showed great awareness and positioned himself well to not allow the home side any chance of sneaking one past him.
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Jan Vertonghen: 8.0
Physical, energetic, intelligent. Tottenham's star centre-back from Ajax made a rare appearance at left-back and anchored his side's defense well against Fulham's right side—their best chance at scoring.
Steven Caulker: 7.5
He and Gallas really helped Lloris in his campaign to be the starting 'keeper at White Hart Lane. Fulham had just two shots on goal all day, and neither was too much of a stretch for the French newcomer to handle. Great job out of the youngster, especially on the road.
Michael Dawson: 7.0
He looked good in the short time he was on the pitch, and it seemed as though he was going to get some useful experience. Pity that he had to get himself knicked in such an exciting road victory. Hopefully Dawson is able to come back because, with Kaboul out, Spurs are wanting for quality centre-backs.
Kyle Naughton: 7.5
I never really noticed Naughton, who stayed in his half along the right sideline. Fulham never really challenged along their left sideline, and that's due Naughton's clamping down in his zone and the Cottagers having a much more quality right side.
William Gallas: 7.5
I'm usually critical of the veteran centre-back's play, and usually rightly so, but on Saturday he was solid in replacement of Michael Dawson, who had to come out due to injury. Fulham never had much of a chance at the center of the box, and that was mostly due to the efforts of Caulker and Gallas.
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Aaron Lennon: 6.5
He had a few good chances in the opening minutes and had a real opportunity at an assist in the first half that didn't come to fruition, but he absolutely disappeared in the second half.
Gareth Bale: 6.0
Disappointing performance from both wingers today, as Lennon and Bale were two of just a few low-lights in what was an exceptional victory away from home. He pulled his hamstring late in the match, and it'll be interesting to see how quickly he can get back on the training pitch.
Tottenham have an important Europa match this week followed by an important trip to Everton, which is sixth in the table.
Moussa Dembele: 7.0
For the first half-hour, he dominated his former club's midfield. As the game wore on and his Spurs took the lead, he seemed to take his foot off the gas. Could've been the weather—it was near freezing with a slight wind chill.
The rarely used midfielder from last season showed why he should have a regular place in the starting lineup. He may have lined up in a right midfielder's role, but he was all over the pitch, covering more ground than any other Spurs player.
His howler of a goal in the 55th minute caught Fulham 'keeper Mark Schwarzer unawares and opened the floodgates for a rousing three-goal road victory by Tottenham.
Gylfi Sigurdsson: 7.5
He came on for an injured Bale in the 62nd minute, proved a problem in the midfield and kept good possession throughout. His run, juke and assist on Defoe's first goal was a thing of beauty.
Thomas Carroll: 6.5
He came on in the 86th minute for Dembele and didn't do anything wrong.
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Jermain Defoe: 8.5
He showed incredible awareness at the top of the Spurs formation. The touch he placed on his two second-half goals was top-notch, but he also benefited from Fulham's left centre-back Aaron Hughes and his absolutely pathetic displays at knowing where he was on the pitch and at marking the Tottenham striker.
Give credit where credit is due, however. With his two goals this afternoon, Defoe has scored four in the last three league matches, putting him firmly in the top echelon of English strikers.
Clint Dempsey: 8.0
Solid play came from the former Fulham man, whom Andre Villas-Boas seems to be floating between attacking midfielder and forward since his arrival at White Hart Lane. He was strong in play with nothing out of the ordinary until he put a class touch on an assist to Defoe for his second, and Spurs' third, goal.