Harry Kane breaks his August duck, as Kieran Trippier stars for Tottenham
LONDON -- Three points from Wembley as a quickfire double in the second half saw Tottenham beat Fulham 3-1.
1. Harry Kane breaks his duck, as Kieran Trippier stars
Harry Kane had never scored a Premier League goal in August before Saturday's match -- a statistic he was fully aware of and a curse he has been keen to lift.
The striker looked jaded at Newcastle last weekend ,and as the second half wore on against Fulham at Wembley on Saturday, he looked set to draw a blank again -- especially when a close-range volley hit the crossbar.
With the last remaining fixture in August coming away against Manchester United, there was a real danger of Kane's bizarre drought extending to 2019. Yet, when his next chance came in the 77th minute, Kane made no mistake, burying the ball into the bottom right corner to make it 3-1.
Another star of England's World Cup campaign also played a crucial part in Spurs' victory. Kieran Trippier scored a free kick for the Three Lions in their semifinal against Russia but found himself behind his Spurs teammate Christian Eriksen in the pecking order against Fulham.
Eriksen tested Fabri with a low strike from a set piece in the first half. But, when Trippier was given a turn with the scores level at 1-1 in the 74th minute, he went one better, firing Spurs back into the lead with his second successful free kick in successive appearances.
Eriksen will have to up his game if he is stay at the head of the queue.
2. Lucas Moura shows he can be like a new signing; duo in business
Spurs may not have made any summer signings, but January recruit Lucas Moura was the star of their preseason programme, scoring three goals. The hope will be that he can grow in importance this term.
The Brazilian's performance at Newcastle on the opening weekend was disappointing, but he scored his first Premier League goal against Fulham, and in some style.
Having missed a couple of early chances, Lucas fired home the opener clinically in the 43rd minute, finding the top left corner from the edge of the box.
He will face competition from Son Heung-Min when the South Korean returns from the Asian Games, while Dele Alli has also excelled as a second striker for Spurs in the past, but Lucas is showing he can provide an extra goal threat. Meanwhile, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose were both expected to leave this summer but were promoted for this match. Alderweireld started, while Rose took a step up to the bench.
Their immediate futures will remain uncertain, with Spurs' players still able to move abroad until the end of the month, but Mauricio Pochettino decision offered hope to supporters that both players could stay and become important figures again.
Alderweireld's inclusion was tactically significant as it allowed Pochettino to switch from the 4-3-3 formation he used at Newcastle to 3-4-2-1, with three centre-backs. That allowed Trippier to operate as an attacking wing-back, along with Ben Davies, while Eriksen and Alli roamed around and in front of Eric Dier, probing for openings and bursting in the box, with Lucas playing alongside Kane up front.
The system worked well in the first half, and Spurs threatened all over the pitch before taking a deserved lead and the absence of ex-Fulham midfielder Mousa Dembele was not felt.
At half-time, the vision of a Dembele-less future did not look too bad. However, Fulham were much improved after the break, forcing Alli and Eriksen back and finding space outside Spurs' centre-backs.
After the Cottagers equalised through Aleksandar Mitrovic, who was assisted by the dangerous Ryan Sessegnon, Pochettino was forced to introduce Dembele and sacrifice one of his centre-backs: Davinson Sanchez.
Spurs quickly regained control and went on to score the winner. Dembele clearly remains a key figure.
3. Fulham show improvement
Slavisa Jokanovic, who named eight new signings in his lineup, has said it will take time for his players to gel, but there was cause for encouragement against Tottenham
After a slow start at Wembley, the Cottagers grew in confidence and caused Spurs problems. Ryan Sessegnon escaped behind the home side's centre-backs a few times, forcing a save from Hugo Lloris and then setting up the visitors' equaliser.
Arriving unmarked at the back post, he squared a cross to Mitrovic, who headed home at close range. While Fulham were defeated for the second match in a row, Sessegnon and Mitrovic in particular have shown they can trouble the top sides, and Jokanovic's side will only improve as their new additions gel.