Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Harry Kane strike to steer Tottenham past Fulham

Tottenham’s upward trajectory continued after they extended their unbeaten start to the season with a convincing victory over Fulham. The scoreline may have looked close but two disallowed goals and numerous saves from the excellent Bernd Leno prevented a more realistic reflection.

Spurs were in complete control in the first half and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s opener was the least they deserved for their dominance before Harry Kane doubled the lead after half-time, becoming the third highest scorer in Premier League history.

Aleksandar Mitrovic rifled home his sixth goal of the season late on to flatter Fulham but Tottenham’s haul – 14 points from their first six matches – is their joint-best start to a campaign at this stage. Antonio Conte led Spurs into the Champions League with a surge last season and this win stretched their run of league games without defeat to 12 matches.

Conte, whose side peppered Fulham with 23 shots including 10 on target, said: “I liked the performance and if I have to find a situation we need to improve it’s to be more clinical. When you have so many chances, you need to score more.”

Spurs had the ball in the net after Son Heung-min curled a cross past Leno but the goal was chalked off, with Kane offside and deemed to be interfering with play after attempting to head the ball. It was an early warning for Fulham and it already had the look of a long afternoon for the promoted visitors.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg celebrates after giving Spurs the lead against Fulham.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg celebrates after giving Spurs the lead against Fulham. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PA

Spurs were swarming all over their opponents and it almost paid off when Richarlison, on his first start for the club, pulled the ball back for Son but his fierce strike was deflected to safety. It continued a frustrating start to the season for the South Korean – last year’s joint top scorer in the league – who is still waiting for his first goal of the campaign.

Son’s luck was certainly out after Kane chipped the ball through to him and the forward’s thumping volley smashed against the crossbar.

Spurs kept the pressure on and were rewarded with the breakthrough before half-time with Højbjerg playing a one-two with Richarlison before placing his low shot past Leno.

Tottenham missed another opportunity four minutes into the second half with Eric Dier firing over the bar from Richarlison’s teasing cross. The former Everton forward, desperate to get off the mark for Spurs, should have done better with a shot inside the penalty area which was held by Leno.

Mitrovic had been kept quiet in the first half after his hugely productive first month back in the Premier League, but the striker almost snatched an equaliser when his deflected shot forced Hugo Lloris to palm the ball around a post.

Normal service resumed at the other end of the pitch with Leno needing all his agility to tip Ryan Sessegnon’s low shot wide.

The former Arsenal winger Willian was given a suitably frosty reception from the home fans after he was handed his Fulham debut on the hour mark, alongside the Leeds loanee Dan James. Leno continued to keep Fulham in with a whisker of hope after stopping Son’s deflected strike.

A second goal finally arrived for Spurs with Sessegnon setting up Kane for a close-range finish, which was awarded despite a tight VAR check for offside. The striker’s 188th Premier League goal moved him past Andy Cole in the history books.

Fulham were not finished though and Mitrovic gave them hope after cutting inside the area and burying a shot past Lloris.

Richarlison celebrated after sliding the ball home in the 90th minute. But his joy was shortlived with VAR ruling the goal out for offside, as Spurs had to settle for a one-goal margin of victory which did not really do them justice.

Marco Silva, the Fulham head coach, said: “We didn’t get up to our standards. Our first half was not good enough. We gave the ball away so easily. We made too many wrong decisions and were not dynamic enough.”


Simon Mail at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

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