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Berbatov back to haunt former club as Tottenham Hotspur suffer 1-0 defeat Fulham
Tottenham Hotspur slumped to back-to-back league defeats as Dimitar Berbatov gave Fulham a close-fought 1-0 victory over his former club.
Spurs, having played into extra time in a 4-1 defeat against Inter Milan on Thursday, followed their disappointing loss to Liverpool last Sunday with a lacklustre display against their tenth placed London rivals.
Berbatov broke a first half stalemate with a tap-in after the break that completed a miserable week for Andre Villas-Boas’ side.
Spurs started with little tempo or pace and both sides were unable to offer anything threatening in the other’s half.
Dembele saw his glancing header cleared off the line early on, while Scott Parker’s long range effort flew over, but both goalkeepers were barely tested in the opening stages.
The atmosphere at White Hart Lane was somewhat subdued and there was little first-half action on the pitch to rouse the fans.
Spurs were often sloppy in possession and Bale drew groans from an increasingly frustrated crowd when he blazed over from long range.
It was a battle of the midfield for large parts of the opening half as both sides repeatedly gifted the other possession but neither were able to produce a threat in the final third.
Tottenham looked like they were feeling the effects of playing 120 nervy minutes at the San Siro in midweek but Fulham did not look like taking advantage, their only chances coming when Lloris spilled Berbatov’s tame cross after Sidwell skied a half volley over the bar.
Sigurdsson momentarily looked like producing something special at the end of the first half but his curling effort from the left sailed wide.
Spurs started the second half with a higher tempo but ironically it perhaps contributed to them going behind when Fulham snatched the opener on the break in the 52nd minute.
Reither out-paced Assou-Ekotto down the right and the winger squared to former Spurs striker Berbatov whose mis-hit finish from six yards bounced past Lloris.
Fulham suddenly looked lively and Sidwell’s long range shot deflected into the hands of Lloris before Brian Ruiz flicked on to Brede Hangeland at the far post who headed inches wide.
Andre Villas-Boas turned to the bench for inspiration but Defoe hit a shot straight at Schwarzer when he met Caulkers low cross soon after coming on.
Tom Carroll replaced Sigurdsson on 66 minutes and the young midfielder instantly brought a bit of quality with his precise passing in the middle of the pitch.
He almost found Bale with a threaded ball that cut open Fulham’s back four before playing a superb lofted through-ball to Adebayor who was flagged offside.
Fulham began to sit back as the clock ticked and Tottenham had more of the ball but, despite the introduction of Defoe, found it difficult to break through a resolute Fulham defence.
The visitors held on for a well-earned three points, while Spurs will no doubt be looking forward to the international break to regroup and get their season back on track.
Tottenham: Lloris; Naughton, Caulker, Dawson (Dempsey, 45), Vertonghen; Sigurdsson (Defoe, 61), Dembele (Carroll, 66), Parker, Assou-Ekotto; Adebayor, Bale.
Subs: Friedel, Walker, Holtby, Livermore.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Sidwell, Karagounis (Eyong, 77); Duff, Ruiz (Emanuelson, 90), Dejagah; Berbatov.
Subs: Etheridge, Hughes, Richardson, Petric, Rodallega.
Bookings: Dejagah, 16.