Tottenham's Younès Kaboul seals win to leave Fulham in relegation zone

Nowhere in the survival manual is there the provision for unmarked opponents on set-pieces two or three yards from goal. As Fulham passed up another shot at salvation, they could reflect upon not one, but two glaring defensive oversights.

You need not look very far to see why Fulham are living in fear. Seventy-seven goals conceded tells a grisly tale and the devil here was in the detail. From two whipped Christian Eriksen free-kicks, Fulham singularly failed to pick up first Paulinho and later Younès Kaboul, and the Tottenham Hotspur players meted out the punishment.

The home team's other goal, headed in by Harry Kane, hardly came in the face of rock-solid defending, and Tottenham could enjoy victory despite appearing to play within themselves. There is an undercurrent of frustration here these days and there was a smattering of boos from the home crowd after an uninspiring first half.

That Hugo Lloris vied with Eriksen for top billing told its own story. He made a clutch of vital saves to enhance his credentials as one of the finest goalkeepers around, most notably the firm hand that repelled Steve Sidwell's penalty in 78th minute.

Fulham flickered in patches and they were left to wonder what might have been had Sidwell converted the penalty. They could have nicked something to build upon the wins against Aston Villa and Norwich City, but this was another day when their generosity proved their undoing. It looks like they have to win their remaining home fixtures, against Hull City and Crystal Palace.

"We are not expecting to win at Tottenham so we are relying on winning our home games," Felix Magath, the Fulham manager, said. "The thing that disturbed me was the two goals we conceded from free-kicks. The scorers were only one metre out. That is too easy."

Tottenham had started poorly in their previous five league games and Tim Sherwood joked that he was overjoyed to be level after two minutes. He did, however, survive a scare. With Kaboul and Zeki Fryers switching off, Hugo Rodallega raced through on to a long punt forward only to slice his first-time effort.

Fulham were bright in the early running, with Sidwell almost connecting with an Alex Kacaniklic cross and Lloris blocking from Rodallega.

Tottenham gained a foothold, with Eriksen to the fore, and Fulham, as usual, giving the impression that there was a defensive error in them. It remains a mystery as to why Brede Hangeland is not more commanding in the air; less so, why he is so cumbersome on the ground.

Kaboul headed just over from Kane's nod back after Hangeland had failed to clear and David Stockdale tipped Aaron Lennon's volley against the post from Eriksen's cross. Hangeland had lost the ball cheaply to Paulinho in the buildup.

The opening goal was a horror story for Magath – the unmarked Paulinho tapping home from point-blank range – but Sherwood would be punching the air in fury a little under two minutes later. Sidwell attempted to exchange passes with Kacaniklic only to get the ball back off Fryers, hold off Kyle Naughton and dink past Lloris.

Magath lamented the late withdrawals of Sascha Riether, through illness and Kieran Richardson and Mahamadou Diarra through minor injuries, but the biggest non-selection subplot concerned the Tottenham midfielder Sandro, who was omitted from the squad and took to Twitter to state that he was not injured. "He's not telling any lies," Sherwood said. "He's not selected because he's not up to it at the moment." Sandro's response to that? "Lol lol lol …"

Tottenham were crisper in the second half, with Eriksen drifting in from the left, and they took the lead when Kane got in front of John Heitinga too easily to glance home Lennon's left-footed cross for his third goal in three games.

Lloris tipped over Rodallega's thumping header in acrobatic style before the focus returned to Fulham's fragility at the back. Heitinga chopped down Danny Rose to earn a booking and, from Eriksen's free-kick, Kaboul was left to direct the ball into the roof of the net via his knee. Rodallega was the Fulham non-marker.

The visitors nearly got a penalty when Rose leaned into Kacaniklic, and they did get one when Eriksen moved his arm to the ball after Rodallega had tried to flick it over him. Lloris blocked Sidwell's driven kick and would make two further reflex saves before the end.

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