Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur headed into Sunday’s game both needing points at opposite ends of the Premier League table. Spurs were without Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, with Fernando Llorente leading the line. Last Word on Football looks back on this Premier League clash, where it was Harry Winks who rescued what was turning into a Llorente nightmare.
Harry Winks Steals the Points as Fernando Llorente Nightmare Nearly Costs Tottenham
Spurs started on the front foot but the story of the first 45 minutes was some dreadful set-pieces. Christian Eriksen didn’t clear the first man and Kieran Trippier inexplicably hit a shot from way out rather than trying to find teammates in the box, much to the annoyance of Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.
On six minutes, Erik Lamela played a lovely ball out to Trippier, who pulled the ball back to Eriksen, whose shot was blocked and went out for a corner. Another set-piece came to nothing and it wasn’t long before Spurs’ keeper, Hugo Lloris, was tested by debutant Ryan Babel. The Dutchman got away from Davinson Sanchez far too easily and should have scored, but Lloris did well to block.
Fernando Llorente was only making his second Premier League start for Spurs and was tasked with getting the goals in the absence of both Son and Kane, and a goal he got on 18 minutes; just not at the right end. A corner came in and he failed to sort out his feet and prodded the ball past a helpless Lloris to give Fulham a precious lead. Spurs were having a lot of possession but not creating enough of note.
That was until a Jan Vertonghen cross from the left found Llorente, who just needed a clean connection to bring Spurs level. Instead, he got it all wrong and the ball hit his shoulder and landed safely in the Fulham keepers hands. This was already looking like turning into a nightmare for the Spanish striker.
Fulham could sense Spurs nerves at the back and Aleksandar Mitrovic had a goal ruled out for offside. Spurs were being run ragged by Ryan Babel; not a phrase often used in conjunction with him in his Liverpool days.
The Mitrovic v Sanchez Side Show
After giving Sanchez the run around in the first half, there was a sigh of relief for Colombian Sanchez when Babel was substituted. Instead, there was robust challenges between Sanchez and Mitrovic. Sanchez cut across Mitrovic and the Serbian wasn’t happy. There was no foul. A couple more challenges ensued before the two came together and Sanchez was shown the yellow card. It seemed to be a rather odd decision but not as odd as when the referee deemed Danny Rose to have dived when he was clearly fouled.
Eriksen and Alli Bring Parity
Spurs’ domination of possession in the second half against Manchester United at Wembley failed to bring any rewards. When Eriksen found Alli in the box with a lofted cross, Spurs were back in the game. The one thing Spurs had not done in the Premier League this season was draw a match.
If Llorente is the Answer, What is the Question?
Llorente has scored two hat-tricks for Tottenham Hotspur. One against Rochdale and one against Tranmere Rovers and, on today’s performance, they are teams that are about his level. No movement, no conviction in his headers and a performance that was simply nowhere near good enough. In fact, it was a Llorente nightmare.
The last thing that Spurs need is any more injuries but, with five minutes left, Alli was clutching his hamstring. He didn’t go straight down the tunnel, which suggests it may have just been a twinge and therefore he may be fine for the League Cup semi-final second leg on Thursday at Stamford Bridge.
Winks Steals It
Fulham had worked hard to get a well-earned point, but Spurs kept pushing and in injury time it was the other Harry that sealed three points with a header that broke Fulham hearts.
It was a massive blow to the Cottagers but an important three points for Tottenham. Spurs now head to Chelsea on Thursday for the League Cup semi-final second leg. Make no mistake though, Llorente is not the answer to Spurs’ striker woes.