The post Martin Jol era at Fulham has started with defeat. In a frantic high-tempo game at Craven Cottage on Wednesday, they went down, 2-1, to Tottenham Hotspur, with Vlad Chiriches and Lewis Holtby netting late after Ashkan Dejagah had given the Cottagers the advantage.
It took only five minutes before Spurs managed to find a gaping hole in the Fulham defence, though fortunately for Fulham, Maarten Stekelenburg managed to keep out Jermain Defoe's vicious low shot from the edge of the box.
It was far from one-way traffic in the first few minutes, with Fulham responding with a couple of good opportunities of their own in a chaotic half. Hugo Lloris managed to turn Giorgos Karagounis' powerful effort around the near post and made an even better save 10 minutes later, denying Dimitar Berbatov on the turn.
A flurry of chances ensued, with Paulinho skying a nigh-on unmissable chance inside the Fulham penalty area before Dejagah almost glanced a Fulham corner inside Lloris' near post. Even Erik Lamela seemed to wake up on the stroke of halftime, forcing Stekelenburg into a save with a swerving effort from the edge of the box. For all of the anxious opportunities, the first half ended goalless.
It didn't stay that way for long into the second half -- just over 10 minutes, to be precise. A silly giveaway by Spurs centre-back Michael Dawson allowed Berbatov to pick out Dejagah in space with a perfect pass, leaving the Iranian international clean through on goal. With a smart finish, he gave the Cottagers the lead.
Unfortunately for the home crowd, they couldn't keep it. With just over 15 minutes left, centre-back Vlad Chiricheș leveled the scores in a spectacular fashion, drilling a low shot from way out right into the bottom corner of Stekelenburg's goal. Spurs suddenly smelled blood, and almost took the lead through Defoe with just over 10 minutes left.
Five minutes later, they had the lead. Spurs sub Lewis Holtby was on hand to provide another brilliant goal, picking the ball up on the edge of the box before lashing it into Stekelenburg's top corner. Fulham should've equalised minutes later through Bryan Ruiz, though Lloris made another brilliant save from close range, before Pajtim Kasami smashed the ball against the post in stoppage time. The final score was 2-1 -- but only just.
Fulham: Stekelenburg; Riise, Hughes, Senderos, Riether; Kačaniklić (Duff 85'), Parker (Ruiz 87'), Karagounis (Sidwell 62'), Dejagah; Kasami; Berbatov.
Goals: Dejagah (56').
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Vertonghen, Chiricheș, Dawson, Walker; Capoue (Holtby 56'), Sandro (Chadli 69'); Lennon, Paulinho, Lamela (Townsend 78'); Defoe.
Goals: Chiricheș (73'), Holtby (82').