Rare Sandro strike sets up Spurs success at Fulham
Fulham 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3
Sandro scored his first goal for 19 months as Spurs closed in on the top four with their third straight league win.
The Brazilian midfielder – whose only previous goal for the club came against Chelsea at the end of the 2010-11 campaign – struck a 30-yard drive that trickled through the grasp of Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
That ended a 55-minute stalemate at Craven Cottage and Jermain Defoe capitalised with a quickfire double to take Spurs level on points with Chelsea and West Brom.
Former Fulham man Clint Dempsey had an early opportunity to silence the inevitable chorus of boos that greeted him on his return to the club he left last summer.
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He collected Defoe’s pass and wriggled away from Philippe Senderos only to scuff his shot wide of the post and prompt another round of jeering from the home crowd.
Fulham might have opened the scoring on 13 minutes when ex-Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov’s back-heel released Ashkan Dejagah and Steven Caulker could only clear the cross straight to Kerim Frei, who aimed for the far corner but failed to find it.
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The visitors had to regroup at the back after skipper Michael Dawson hobbled off in the 17th minute, having overstretched to intercept a cross from Dejagah.
And the Tottenham defence was cut open again soon afterwards as John Arne Riise swept in a low cross for Mladen Petric, but Hugo Lloris came to his side’s rescue with a close-range save.
That was about the sum extent of either goalkeeper’s exertion for the rest of the first half, although Mladen Petric should have done better with a chance that he ballooned over following Caulker’s error.
The second period started off as more of the same, so it was no surprise that the deadlock was broken with a goal out of the blue when Schwarzer fumbled Sandro’s drive onto the post and over the line.
Five minutes later, the Whites keeper did better by parrying Gareth Bale’s drive – and that proved to be the Welshman’s last contribution to the game as he pulled up with a hamstring strain.
But Spurs sailed on regardless and doubled their lead on 72 minutes after Stephen Kelly gave the ball away to substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson, who galloped into the box, rounded Senderos and set up a tap-in for Defoe.
And the visitors made the game safe five minutes later when Dempsey threaded a pass through for Defoe, who timed his run well and slipped the ball past Schwarzer.
The margin of defeat was harsh on Fulham – who have now failed to win in their last seven games – but, apart from Dejagah’s header that sailed over, they created precious little.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether (Kelly 29), Senderos, Hughes, Riise; Dejagah, Diarra, Sidwell, Frei (Duff 62); Berbatov, Petric (Rodallega 79).
Tottenham: Lloris; Naughton, Dawson (Gallas 17), Caulker, Vertonghen; Sandro, Dembele; Lennon, Dempsey, Bale (Sigurdsson 62); Defoe.