Harry Kane moved level with Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham’s all-time leading scorer as his 266th goal for the club clinched a 1-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Kane equalled the record in brilliant style, spinning away from Tim Ream on the edge of the Fulham box and firing an unstoppable effort into the corner just before half-time.
Fulham had started well, knowing a victory would send them into fifth place, above their out-of-form opponents, but they failed to capitalise on their early dominance and Spurs seized control.
Kane had a golden opportunity to score a second and surpass Greaves’ record when his close-range header was saved by Bernd Leno, but a solitary goal proved sufficient after a drab second half as Spurs claimed only their second win in six Premier League games and closed the gap to fourth-placed Manchester United to three points.
Spurs head coach Antonio Conte later revealed Kane had played despite suffering from a fever before the game. “He was not so good but he wanted to play because he understood the moment,” said the Italian.
“He understood he is a point of reference for us. Today I am really happy because I think he was rewarded with a goal.”
Fulham, meanwhile, remain seventh, their defeat compounded by the sight of Aleksandar Mitrovic having to be helped off the pitch after suffering an ankle injury following a challenge with Eric Dier.
Fulham: Leno (7), Tete (6), Diop (7), Ream (6), Robinson (7), Palhinha (7), Reed (6), Pereira (6), Willian (6), Decordova-Reid (6), Mitrovic (6).
Subs: Cairney (6), Solomon (6), Wilson (n/a), Vinicius (n/a).
Tottenham: Lloris (8); Royal (7), Dier (7), Romero (7), Davies (7), Hojbjerg (7), Perisic (7), Kulusevski (7), Bentancur (7), Son (7), Kane (8).
Subs: Richarlison (6), Bissouma (n/a).
Player of the match: Harry Kane
How Spurs claimed victory
Following an 18-minute delay to kick-off due to transport issues for supporters travelling to the ground, the first half was played at a frantic pace, with Fulham initially dominating.
Bobby Decordova-Reid and Harrison Reed forced early saves from Hugo Lloris, with Mitrovic then glancing a header narrowly wide from Kenny Tete’s diagonal cross.
- Fulham made only one change from their 1-0 loss to Newcastle, with Antonee Robinson returning from suspension at left-back.
- Tottenham named an unchanged side from their 4-2 loss to Man City, with Richarlison only deemed fit enough for the bench.
Spurs were largely pinned back in their own half at first, only threatening when Ben Davies fired over from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s low cross, but soon they began to play their way into the game, with Emerson Royal drawing a parry from Leno.
Heung-Min Son was perhaps fortunate to avoid a red card when his studs landed on Tete’s ankle following a late challenge, but he would play a key role in the goal not long afterwards.
Receiving Hojbjerg’s pass in space, the South Korean turned and fed Kane, who swivelled away from Ream and arrowed a clinical finish into the far corner for his record-equalling 266th Spurs goal and 199th in the Premier League.
Kane had shown flashes of his threat before that, firing another stinging long-range effort narrowly over, and he should have had a second soon after the break but he sent his header too close to Leno, who reacted well, following a Spurs corner.
Spurs had surrendered a lead in their last game, the 4-2 loss to Manchester City, but a repeat rarely looked like a possibility as they defended resolutely and kept the hosts at bay in an uneventful second half.
Mitrovic threatened on a couple of occasions, firing a diagonal effort wide and sending a looping header over the bar, while substitute Manor Solomon produced a curling effort which Lloris pushed around the post.
But, despite six minutes of stoppage time in which Fulham continued to push for a leveller, Spurs held out, claiming a victory which boosts their top-four prospects after back-to-back losses against Arsenal and City.
Conte: We have to be dreamers
After revealing that Kane had suffered with a fever before the game, Spurs head coach Antonio Conte added: “He was not so good but he wanted to play because he understood the moment.
“He understood he is a point of reference for us, for me, for all the players. With Hugo Lloris, he is a point of reference in the dressing room. Today I am really happy because I think he was rewarded with a goal.
“For sure, I would like him to win something important with Tottenham because he loves Tottenham in his heart and it would be good if together we were able to win something here.
“It’s important for him to have this record, but I think it could be more important if we lift a trophy.
“I think we have to be dreamers. I said that today has to be a starting point for us. Many times, especially after the defeats, we can learn much more than a win.
“I think after the game against Manchester City, and also against Arsenal, it was important to make a good reflection with the players and to understand that maybe we lost something compared to last season.
“Not offensively, because last season we were one of the best attacks in the league and this season we are the third [best] attack, but we lost something defensively.
“When I speak defensively, I want to involve the whole team. For this reason, I speak with the team and ask them to show the resilience, the desire, the will to defend.
“I think I got a good answer from my players.”
Kane: We want to win every game for Conte
Kane admitted it has been a difficult period for Conte on and off the pitch and insisted the players are right behind him.
“Being part of a team it is not just the players on the pitch, it is the manager and the staff, being there for each other,” he told Sky Sports.
“We want to win every game for him. He puts so much passion and effort into every game, every training session and we want to repay him with victories.
“We had a good meeting amongst ourselves and the manager in the week, just to talk amongst ourselves, to get back to what we are good at.
“We are going to keep fighting. The manager is really passionate and we have just got to keep working hard for him.”
On his goal, he said: “I was just trying to get myself into a position where I can get half a yard. Maybe pinning the defender is something which has come into my game a bit more the last year or so.
“I used the defender to bend it around him, it was a nice goal. I was able to bend it into the far corner. Thankfully there was enough in it.
“I have been playing football long enough now to know where the goal is. It is just instinct.”
On building on the result, he added: “That is what happened to us last year, we came on really strong towards the end of the season and managed to get that Champions League spot.
“It is just about getting back to what we are good at, keeping clean sheets, being compact and tough to break down, then being ready on the counter or creating chances in the final third.
“Hopefully we can use this victory as a bit of momentum, there are plenty of games coming up and there is still a lot to play for.”
Analysis: Kane shows his completeness again
Kane’s record-equalling 266th goal lit up a drab game. He was helped by the slack Fulham defending which allowed Son to pick up the ball in space to play the pass, but the rest – the spin, the finish – was all him. A brilliant goal and a decisive one too.
He had barely touched the ball before that but, as we all know by now, it does not take much for Kane to change the course of the game. With one of his only previous touches, a dipping effort fired just over. Even starved of service, it was clear he was in the mood.
The majority of his 266 Spurs goals have come from inside the box, where his scoring instincts are sharpest, his threat most potent, but Kane is so much more than a poacher and this was just the latest reminder. The goal was his 24th in the Premier League from outside the box, a total second only to Kevin De Bruyne since his debut.
Kane missed a far easier chance after the break, sending his header too close to Leno following a Spurs corner, but it was fitting, given his importance to this Spurs side, that his record-equalling strike should ultimately prove the difference between one point and three.
“When you think of Premier League greats, Kane is one of the best we’ve seen,” said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher afterwards. “He’ll go down as Tottenham’s greatest player.”
After goal number 266, and with plenty more still to come, there can be no arguments with that.
Silva: We lost our energy
Fulham head coach Marco Silva: “It was a tight game, really tactical. Our first 40 minutes was a very good level. It was clear we were the most dominant team, clear that we wanted to be on the front foot from the first minute.
“We know they are solid and compact but even if you want to be dominant you cannot lose focus or organisation because on counter-attacks they can punish you.
“In the first 40 minutes we did it really well. Not many chances created but we had two good chances. We lost a little bit of control in the last five minutes of the first half and they punished us in one moment.
“Kane is a top, top player but we were not in a good set-up to block that connection with him.
“Second half we lost a bit of energy. They sat back with always nine players behind the ball. We lost some energy to find the gaps and spaces. We were dominant but we didn’t create many chances.”
Son and Kane combine – Opta stats
- Fulham have lost 13 of their last 15 Premier League games against Tottenham Hotspur (W1 D1), with their only win in that sequence a 1-0 away victory in March 2013.
- Tottenham have won each of their last seven away Premier League games against Fulham, their joint-longest away winning run against a specific opponent in their top-flight history.
- Tottenham have scored as many first half goals across their last two Premier League games (three) as they did in their previous 12 matches in the competition.
- Craven Cottage became the 33rd different ground Tottenham’s Harry Kane has scored a Premier League goal at, with only Andrew Cole (37), Frank Lampard (34) and Wayne Rooney (34) netting at more different venues in the competition’s history.
- Tottenham pair Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane have combined for 44 Premier League goals, eight more than any other duo in the competition’s history (Drogba/Lampard, 36).
Fulham turn their attention to the FA Cup next weekend, as the Cottagers host Championship side Sunderland on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.
The west Londoners return to Premier League action the following Friday, with a west London derby away at Chelsea, live on Sky Sports.
The Cottagers take on Nottingham Forest and travel to Brighton before they end their February schedule at home to Wolves on February 24, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 8pm.
Tottenham also have an FA Cup fourth-round match at the weekend, as they go to Championship side Preston on Saturday, kick-off 6pm.
Spurs return to Premier League action with a Super Sunday clash at home to Manchester City, live on Sky Sports. Antonio Conte’s side then face two tricky away trips to Leicester and AC Milan later in February, before hosting two London derbies against West Ham and Chelsea, both live on Sky Sports Super Sunday.