Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham
Goals from Paulinho, Harry Kane and Younes Kaboul ended struggling Fulham's recent resurgence with a 3-1 win for Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
The Craven Cottage side, who were looking for a third successive Premier League win, had pulled themselves back into the game in the 37th minute through Steve Sidwell, less than two minutes after Paulinho's opener.
But the Fulham midfielder was guilty of squandering the chance to claw his side back into the game 14 minutes before the end when his penalty was saved by Hugo Lloris.
Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood had said before the game that his team were "much of a muchness," as BBC Sport reported, but the emergence of Kane could be an impressive legacy if the former midfielder leaves his post in the summer.
The 20-year-old, along with Christian Eriksen, was an excellent performer on an afternoon that saw Spurs reignite their Europa League hopes.
Tottenham made one change to their line-up with Ezekiel Fryers replacing Vlad Chiriches in defence.
But Spurs star Sandro offered a cryptic note on his omission from the team ahead of the game.
Good morning Guys, just to let you know that i'm not injured ! Hope that we can win the game today.— Sandro Raniere (@sandroraniere) April 19, 2014
Felix Magath made five alterations to his starting XI with Lewis Holtby among those to drop out against his parent club. But there was a welcome return in midfield for Scott Parker against his former employers.
TEAM NEWS Five changes for @FulhamFC as Riise, Kvist, Parker, Dejagah & Kačaniklić replace Kasami, Diarra, Holtby, Richardson & Riether— Premier League (@premierleague) April 19, 2014
Hugo Rodallega had an early half-chance for Fulham when he broke the offside trap to chase a long ball but fired wide of Lloris' goal.
It was a relatively uneventful opening period at White Hart Lane, and only a Kane snapshot and a wayward Nacer Chadli cross broke the atmosphere for the home fans.
A Fryers error almost allowed Fulham to open the scoring in the 15th minute. The Spurs defender lost possession, and a subsequent cross almost found Sidwell inside the area.
In the 18th minute, the first genuine chance of the game fell to Spurs. An Eriksen corner was not fully cleared by Brede Hangeland, and Kane headed back into the danger zone, but Kaboul headed just over the crossbar.
Moments later, Lloris produced a good block to deny Rodellega at the other end.
It was an encouraging start for Magath's team, with the midfield play being dominated by Fulham, and a 23rd-minute Alexander Kacaniklic corner almost found John Heitinga inside the Spurs box.
Three minutes later, Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale produced a tremendous stop to push Aaron Lennon's volley on to the post after an Eriksen cross.
26' Tottenham 0-0 Fulham. Lennon's volley is diverted onto the inside of the post and away by Stockdale's palm as Spurs come close. #coyw— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) April 19, 2014
In the 35th minute, Tottenham opened the scoring. A whipped free-kick beat the Fulham defence and fell to the foot of Paulinho, and the Brazilian had little problem converting from just a yard out.
Christian Eriksen: Only Luis Suárez (7) has picked up more assists in the PL in 2014 than Eriksen (6) #THFC— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 19, 2014
But within two minutes, Fulham were level as the visitors displayed their character. Sidwell found some space in midfield and was left unchallenged as he attempted a one-two with Kacaniklic on the edge of the area.
Fryers instead poked the ball back into the midfielder's path, and Sidwell gratefully slotted beyond Lloris.
Three minutes after the interval, Kane restored Tottenham's lead with his third goal in as many games.
Lennon cut inside from the right flank and floated a left-footed ball across the Fulham box, and Kane evaded Heitinga to head home.
Nice from Harry Kane. 3 in 3 for the young striker.— Willie Gannon (@WillieGannon) April 19, 2014
Fulham almost immediately levelled, though. A great cross from the left by John Arne Riise was met by the head of Rodallega, but Lloris produced a tremendous stop to deny the striker.
Parker was withdrawn from the fray in the 55th minute, replaced by Giorgos Karagounis.
Heitinga became the first name in referee Lee Probert's book for felling Danny Rose on the hour mark. Eriksen fired in a trademark free-kick, and Kaboul was just inches from goal to turn the ball into the roof of the net.
Think Fulham should just defend on the line with these.— Janusz Michallik (@JanuszESPN) April 19, 2014
Heitinga signalled to the bench that he was unfit to continue and was subsequently replaced by Elsad Zverotic.
Rose was fortunate to escape a penalty appeal against him when he appeared to bring down Kacaniklic inside the area.
Sherwood sent on Mousa Dembele in place of Chadli in the 68th minute, and the momentum and confidence was now with the home side courtesy of the 3-1 lead.
The fight appeared to have gone from Fulham, and Ashkan Dejagah dragged a 72nd-minute shot wide when he should have done a lot better.
With 14 minutes left, Fulham were gifted a way back into the game when Eriksen handled inside the area, but Sidwell struck his penalty straight at Lloris and the goalkeeper pushed the ball away.
Lloris saves the penalty, the Ginger Pele is denied! #Spurs— KICKTV (@KICKTV) April 19, 2014
Kane left the field to an ovation from the Spurs fans in the 79th minute, with Roberto Soldado coming on in his place. And Andros Townsend was brought on in place of Eriksen with five minutes remaining.
But despite some late pressure from Fulham, Tottenham comfortably held on for the three points to move themselves three points behind fifth-placed Everton ahead of their trip to Stoke next weekend.
Fulham, meanwhile, will need to regroup after missing the chance to lift themselves out of the relegation zone when they play host to Hull City next weekend.
Selected player ratings
Steve Sidwell: A
Just the kind of performance Fulham will need to escape relegation. Midfielder was willing to chase and run where necessary. Fully deserved his equaliser. Penalty miss should not disguise a fine display.
Younes Kaboul: C
Might have gone close for Spurs early on, but defender looked fragile and was hardly proving to be a mentor figure alongside Fryers. Much improved in second period, though, as he gave his team a 3-1 lead.
Harry Kane: A+
Youngster is proving to be a shining light for Tottenham in a mediocre end to the Premier League season. Deserved his goal after a hardworking display for the home side.
Tottenham will now turn their attention toward the Premier League trip to Stoke City next Saturday, while Fulham have another crucial game at the same time with the visit of Hull City to Craven Cottage.
Felix Magath was left 'disturbed' by Fulham's defending from set-pieces but praised opposition goalkeeper Hugo Lloris http://t.co/m0WsePKWVL— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) April 19, 2014
Tim: "We deserved to win. Fulham were spirited but we weathered all they had to offer and our class told in the end."— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 19, 2014
Quick reaction from Hugo on his penalty save. "Penalties are often about luck and today, the luck was on my side." pic.twitter.com/lQBmPSuAxx— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 19, 2014
Sherwood: "Sandro had calf injury & in my eyes it was not right to put him in the squad. I don't care about tweet. He can tweet what wants"— Gary Jacob (@garyjacob) April 19, 2014