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Match Analysis: Fulham 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Sports Mole analyses the Premier League clash between Fulham and Spurs at Craven Cottage, where Rene Meulensteen fell to a 2-1 defeat in his first game as Whites manager.

Tottenham Hotspur ended their four-match winless Premier League run by inflicting a 2-1 defeat on Fulham in Rene Meulensteen's first game in charge.

Ashkan Dejagah, one of seven players recalled by Fulham's new head coach, put the hosts ahead on 56 minutes with his first goal for the Cottagers.

However, Spurs had two men open up their own personal Premier League accounts, as Vlad Chiriches and Lewis Holtby both scored spectacularly from range to earn the visitors a come-from-behind win.

Below, Sports Mole analyses whether the result was reflective of the action in London.

Match statistics:

Shots: 16
On target: 6
Possession: 40%
Corners: 9
Fouls: 7

Shots: 18
On target: 5
Possession: 60%
Corners: 7
Fouls: 16

Was the result fair?

On another night, when Tottenham's long-range radar was not quite as accurate, Fulham could easily have come away with a point. It would have been deserved too, based on the number of openings that they created, and the way that they went about limiting Spurs chances to play in dangerous areas.

Fulham's performance:

Fulham put everything they had into a first hour in which they set up perfectly to thwart a Spurs side seemingly devoid of creativity. They were content to allow the visiting defenders to have as much of the ball as they wanted, but as soon as play crossed the halfway line, the Cottagers were relentless in their pressing. It perhaps resulted in their tiredness in the latter stages, but this work-ethic was one of many positives that Meulensteen can take from this evening's fixture. His players were playing with new-found confidence and grit, were dangerous going forward, and Dimitar Berbatov seemed motivated again.

Tottenham's performance:

Two strikes of the highest quality will mask what was again a Spurs side unable to regularly create or convert clear-cut chances when posed with a team dropping men behind the ball. The defence that had been so solid at the start of the season suddenly appears to have holes in, and only the performance of Hugo Lloris prevented them from conceding more. They will not be able to go on a winning sequence scoring only long-range wonderstrikes and penalties, and Andre Villas-Boas needs to address the flaws that are currently evident in his side's attacking approach. It wasn't all bad, but they have only limped past a Fulham side that most of their top-four rivals have had no problem in dispatching this season.

Sports Mole's man of the match:

Hugo Lloris: Both goalkeepers were on fine form, but, as it turned out, it was Lloris's exploits which were crucial in deciding this result. While the scores were goalless, the French number one was forced into low diving stops to deny Giorgos Karagounis and Berbatov, who he also kept out moments after Spurs had moved into the lead. He saved his best until last, too, showing superb reflexes to tip Bryan Ruiz's late volley around the post. A confidence-boosting performance following recent mistakes.

Biggest gaffe:

Brazilian midfielder Paulinho had shown great composure to cut inside and beat two men after an incisive Spurs break, but his finish was anything but cool as he blazed over the crossbar from 10 yards with the goal gaping. Had he scored, the visitors may have been in for a much more comfortable evening.

Referee's performance:

Mark Clattenburg erred on the side of caution when he showed first-half yellow cards to Etienne Capoue and Pajtim Kasami for challenges that may have been worthy of more severe punishment. He was rarely called upon after the interval, but his assistant may be questioned for not flagging Jermain Defoe offside, when the England frontman seemed to be interfering in the build up to Chiriches's equaliser.

What next?

Fulham: Meulensteen will be hoping to build on this performance and pick up the first points of his tenure when Aston Villa visit Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Spurs: Tottenham travel to the Stadium of Light to face another side in the relegation zone, Sunderland, in this weekend's Saturday evening kickoff.

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Tottenham's Vlad Chiriches celebrates after scoring his team's opening goal against Fulham during their Premier League match on December 4, 2013
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