Fulham 1 Tottenham 1; Fulham win 5-3 on penalties
Ange Postecoglou hit the first bump in the road in his Tottenham reign – sunk by the man who had to change his boots.
Postecoglou has had a charmed start to his spell in charge of Tottenham, taking seven points from their first three Premier League games with some swashbuckling attacking football.
But on Tuesday night at Craven Cottage too many of Tottenham’s old faults came creeping through again, as they produced a sloppy, unconvincing performance against an eager Fulham side to lose their first chance of silverware under the new regime.
It was Kenny Tete’s penalty in the shoot out – after the Dutch full-back had had to go off to change a torn boot midway through the second half during which Richarlison’s goal cancelled out Micky van de Ven’s first-half own goal – that clinched the tie.
But Fulham deserved their win, and it left Postecoglou crestfallen.
“We are obviously disappointed,” he said. “We were not at our fluid best but that was not surprising given the changes. I liked the way we hung in there, but ultimately we could not get over the line.
“The Carabao Cup was my priority. There is no European football so how am I going to find out about my players? They are all part of the club. That doesn’t mean the cup or any game isn’t our priority.
“We are very much at the discovery stage, so we need to find out and give the players the opportunity to contribute if we are going to need them over the next few weeks. We are going to need to rely on these guys, and this was an opportunity to do that.
“But we gave the ball away too much – and that is still something we need to keep working on.
“We have come away having lost on penalties to another Premier League side. If we had been beaten 4-0 or got blown away then maybe there would be another conversation. But this is part of the process that we are going through.”
Davinson Sánchez missed the key spot kick in the shootout for Spurs, but Fulham found the back of the net with all of theirs as they clinched a tight tie.
Postecoglou had been serenaded by pop star Robbie Williams this week in a video that went viral on social media with a tune adapted from his hit “Angels.” The big Australian was probably not very angelic with his players after this performance.
Marco Silva, booked for the third time this season in three games on Saturday, was forced to watch from the television gantry up in the new Riverside Stand.
Fulham, though, deservedly took the lead after 19 minutes, when Tom Cairney superbly tricked his way past two defenders and crossed low. Harrison Reed missed the ball, and it deflected off Van de Ven and past Fraser Forster. It was the unfortunate Dutchman’s second own goal in four games since joining Spurs in the summer.
Reed headed over as Fulham kept up the pressure against a nervous-looking Tottenham. Forster was then called into action as he saved with his feet from Rodrigo Muniz after a barnstorming run from Adama Traoré.
Tottenham were sloppy and indecisive, with passes going astray all over the pitch, and Fulham’s sheer energy causing them real problems. Silva’s side should have had a second just before half time, when Muniz met Traoré’s cross, but Forster saved one handed.
But then, out of the blue, with Tete off replacing his boot, Ivan Perisic crossed from the spot where he should have been, and Richarlison nodded Spurs level with his first goal of the season.
Fulham could and should have won the game in normal time, as first Bobby Decordova-Reid blazed wide from Harry Wilson’s pass.
Silva admitted he was unhappy with Tete’s sudden spot of going AWOL, saying: “We conceded when we had 10 men and in the future we will approach in a different way, because we cannot give the opponents chances like that. It was the first time and it will be the last time it happens.
“He had to change his boot. Of course I would like the players to react in a different way. Now they know what they should do in that moment. Of course it was not the best moment.
“But Kenny was going to take the fifth or sixth penalty anyway. It was already decided. He is a good penalty taker.
“The best team won, and will be in the next round. The players executed the game plan well. We had the chances to win the game over the 97 minutes.”
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Tete, Diop, Ream, Robinson; Reed (Harris, 77), Palhinha; Traore (Wilson, 61), Cairney (Francois, 83), Decordova-Reid (Pereira, 77); Muniz (Jimenez, 83).
Substitutes not used: Leno (g), Mbabu, Vinicius, De Fougerolles.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-3): Forster; Emerson, Sanchez, Van De Ven, Davies; Skipp (Sarr, 72), Hojbjerg, Perisic (Son, 71); Solomon (Maddison, 82), Richarlison (Kulusevski, 72), Lo Celso (Scarlett, 45).
Substitutes not used: Vicario (g), Bissouma, Romero, Udogie.
Booked: Van De Ven, Skipp.
Referee: Josh Smith (Peterborough).