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Tottenham benefit from handball rule to claim valuable victory at Fulham

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League – Craven Cottage
(Image credit: Clive Rose)

Tottenham were the beneficiaries of the controversial handball law as they held on to a 1-0 win at Fulham that boosts their top-four hopes.

The International Football Association Board’s meeting on Friday could not be more timely after the Cottagers were denied an equaliser by a harsh handball rule in the second half.

After Spurs led in the first half through Tosin Adarabioyo’s own goal, Scott Parker’s men had the ball in the back of the net when Josh Maja fired home, but replays showed the ball cannoned into the hand of Mario Lemina from a Davinson Sanchez clearance when he was a matter of yards away.

VAR ruled out a second-half goal for Fulham’s Josh Maja

VAR ruled out a second-half goal for Fulham’s Josh Maja (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

VAR applied the laws and ruled the goal out, robbing Fulham of what would have been a worthy leveller and potentially having a huge impact on their quest for Premier League survival.

They did more than enough to take at least a point out of the game, completely dominating the second half but they could not find another way through.

It was far from convincing from Jose Mourinho’s side, but they held on to register an important win, staying in eighth position but moving four points off the top four.

After a sluggish start Spurs came to life after 15 minutes and began to look dangerous.

Tottenham took the lead in the 20th minute through Tosin Adarabioyo's own goal

Tottenham took the lead in the 20th minute through Tosin Adarabioyo’s own goal (Neil Hall/PA)

Gareth Bale fired a free-kick over the crossbar while Harry Kane uncharacteristically put a free header straight at Alphonse Areola following Son Heung-min’s pinpoint cross.

Having fired their warning shots, they took the lead in the 20th minute.

Bale, fresh from his devastating performance against Burnley on Sunday, was again involved as he set Dele Alli free down the middle. The midfielder. making his first Premier League start since the opening day of the season, found Son on the left and then made his way into the box to get on the end of the return pass, with the final touch awarded to Fulham defender Adarabioyo.

That gave Spurs control of the game and they went on to dominate possession and territory.

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Kane had a reasonable appeal for a penalty turned down after VAR backed referee David Coote’s decision before Son put a header wide at the far post when picked out by Alli.

Despite being in control, Spurs almost went in at half-time level as Fulham created their best opening in first-half stoppage time.

Antonee Robinson did well to get in down the left and the ball was pulled back to Lemina, who blazed over.

Fulham started the second half brightly and forced Hugo Lloris into two smart stops from set-pieces.

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First the Frenchman expertly tipped over Joachim Andersen’s header from a free-kick and then from the resulting corner he kept out Adarabioyo’s effort.

The Cottagers thought they had a deserved leveller just after the hour as Maja fired into the bottom corner after Lemina’s first effort had been saved by Lloris.

But Sanchez’s clearance had hit Lemina’s arm from close range before falling to Maja and VAR ruled the goal out.

This was an all-too familiar sight for Spurs, taking a lead and then reverting into their shells as Fulham threw bodies forward.

Tottenham claimed a valuable three points at Fulham

Tottenham claimed a valuable three points at Fulham (Neil Hall/PA)

It took until the 83rd minute for the visitors to have a shot in the second half and it should have killed the game.

Erik Lamela played in Kane, but the England captain had a rare off night in front of goal and allowed Areola to block the shot.

It was frantic at the end but Spurs held on with Fulham left feeling a sense of injustice.