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

Tottenham extended their unbeaten start to the season with a confident victory over Fulham. Antonio Conte’s side were in complete control of the first half and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s goal was the least they deserved for their dominance. Bernd Leno’s excellence kept the scoreline down but the former Arsenal goalkeeper could not prevent Harry Kane doubling the lead to become the third highest scorer in Premier League history.

Aleksandar Mitrovic rifled home his sixth goal of the season to flatter Fulham late on but Spurs would not be denied a fourth win from their opening six games. Conte led the club into the Champions League with a surging finish to last season and their win over Fulham stretched their run of league games without defeat to 12 matches.

Richarlison was handed his first start for Tottenham in one of five changes from the team which drew at West Ham, while the defender Cristian Romero was fit to return to the lineup after missing the last three matches with a muscle injury.

Marco Silva opted to stick with the team which defeated Brighton but had the option of introducing new signings Willian, Daniel James and Carlos Vinícius from the bench.

Spurs almost opened the scoring within the seven minutes after Rodrigo Bentancur threaded a ball through to Kane but the England striker’s shot was pushed around the post by Leno.

They then had the ball in the net after Son Heung-min curled his cross past Leno but the goal was immediately 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, though, and it already had the look of a long afternoon for the newly 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 dribbled into the box and 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 forward – last season’s joint top scorer in the league – as the wait for his first goal of the season lingers on.

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.

The hosts nearly doubled their lead in first-half injury time but Ryan Sessegnon curled his shot narrowly past Leno’s far post. A second goal would have been a more accurate reflection of Spurs’ control.

They missed a glorious opportunity four minutes into the second half, too, but Eric Dier fired over the bar from Richarlison’s teasing cross. The former Everton forward, desperate to get off the mark for his new club, should also have done better with a shot inside the penalty area which was easily saved by Leno.

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

Normal service resumed at the other end of the pitch with Leno needing all his agility to fingertip Sessegnon’s low shot past the post. Willian was given a suitably frosty reception from the home fans, after the former Arsenal winger was handed his Fulham debut, on the hour mark alongside the Leeds loanee James.

Leno continued to keep Fulham in with a whisker of hope after turning Son’s deflected strike wide. But the second goal finally arrived for Spurs with Sessegnon playing the ball across to Kane for the striker to apply the close-range finish, which was awarded despite a tight VAR check for offside. His 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 for his sixth goal of the season.

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

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