x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Fulham on fire against Tottenham in the FA Cup

Two Danny Murphy penalties, Brede Hangeland's gimme and a brutal fourth from Moussa Dembele pushed the scoreline into embarrassing territory.

LONDON // Slowly, worryingly, the sheen is rubbing off Tottenham Hotspur's season of delirium. As Roman Abramovich shapes to spend gaudily on a stellar striker, Daniel Levy is labouring to secure his own perfect front man.

With Gareth Bale's back preoccupying his medical staff, Harry Redknapp is fighting to dampen self-generated expectation of another Champions League place as his chairman stridently demands one.

Their FA Cup campaign ended early and ugly at Craven Cottage. Tottenham were strong in personnel, bone-brittle in tactics and execution. Impressive in every dimension, Fulham had chewed them up and spat them out before half time.

Two Danny Murphy penalties, Brede Hangeland's gimme and a brutal fourth from Moussa Dembele pushed the scoreline into embarrassing territory.

"Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong," complained Redknapp.

"We gave two horrendous goals away and had Michael Dawson sent off. Two penalties and a sending off. How do you come back from that?"

Not without Bale to play superman. "I didn't anticipate it would be as easy at that," said Mark Hughes, the Fulham manager. "But we wanted to make a fast start, we were able to force a few errors out of their back four and as were able to capitalise."

Both clubs have struggled to secure a forward in the transfer window. Tottenham's tardiness in agreeing personal terms with Guiseppe Rossi resulted in the Italian signing a contract extension at Villarreal. Massively upping their budget still failed to land Sergio Aguero at the weekend.

Fulham's problem has been of a separate nature. With the spadework done on a potential £3.75 million (Dh21.9m) transfer of Paolo Guerrero from Hamburg, Mark Hughes abruptly reversed his decision to take the Peru international. Both player and the German club were left bemused.

Fulham's attempt to bring Paul Konchesky back to the Cottage has also petered out after they failed to find a new home for Carlos Salcido, the Mexican left-back.

Redknapp, meanwhile, engaged in a tactical experiment that backfired horribly. The attempt at a Jose Mourinho-like 4-1-2-3 looked imbalanced from the start.

Credit Fulham, though. They exploited the visitors' uncertainty ruthlessly. Clint Dempsey had already come close to scoring twice when Alan Hutton halted his run towards goal with a hefty tackle. Heurelho Gomes could not stop Murphy's penalty.

Within three minutes they were facing each other over 12 yards again. Phil Dowd, the referee, had excelled himself once more, allowing Dembele the opportunity to convert after Michael Dawson's shirt pull before handing out a spot kick and red card. This time Murphy went to the opposite corner and Spurs crumbled.

Following a couple more convertible chances, Damien Duff skidded a corner kick across the box, Andy Johnson flicked on and Hangeland tapped in. The Norwegian was, of course, unmarked.

As half time approached, possession was lost in Fulham's half, allowing Dembele to sprint past Sebastien Bassong and fire precisely into a bottom corner.