LONDON (Reuters) – Harry Kane notched his fifth goal of the campaign as Tottenham Hotspur maintained their impressive start to the Premier League season with a 2-1 win over Fulham that did little justice to their best attacking display so far on Saturday.
Goals in each half by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Kane earned Tottenham a fourth win in six games but they should have been out of sight of their London rivals by the time in-form Aleksandar Mitrovic’s effort set up a nervy finale.
Son Heung-min suffered more ill-fortune in his bid to get off the mark this season with the South Korean denied by the woodwork while Richarlison was denied his first Tottenham goal despite a sensational display by the number nine.
Unbeaten Tottenham’s fourth win in six games lifted them to 14 points, one behind leaders Arsenal who play on Sunday.
Fulham remain in mid-table with eight points.
For the first time Tottenham manager Antonio Conte unleashed Richarlison from the start to form an attacking trident with Kane and Son and it proved an exciting formula.
While Kane was on target again to move into third place in the Premier League all-time scorer charts with 188 goals, his team mates Son and Richarlison were equally impressive.
“Harry, Richy and Sonny worked very hard for the team with ball and without ball. They gave a lot of danger for the opponent. We are going to score many goals with these strikers,” Tottenham manager Antonio Conte told reporters.
“I think the final result, we deserved much more for the chances we created. But you have to kill games like this,” he added.
With wing backs Ryan Sessegnon and Emerson Royal raiding forward at every opportunity, Fulham were at full stretch to keep out wave after wave of Spurs attacks.
Son had an effort deflected over the bar after Richarlison’s cut back and then stabbed a shot against the crossbar after being picked out by Kane’s clever chipped pass.
In the end it took a cool finish from defensive midfielder Hojbjerg to break the deadlock after 40 minutes.
Again Richarlison was heavily involved, exchanging passes with the Dane who slid a shot out of Bernd Leno’s reach.
The pattern continued after the break with Richarlison driving a ball across goal for Eric Dier to blaze over.
Sessegnon’s low shot was then heading on target before Leno clawed it around the post.
Eventually Kane touched in Sessegnon’s pass in the 75th minute to double Tottenham’s lead before Son’s dinked pass saw Richarlison thump a volley against the post.
Mitrovic had already given Tottenham a warning when his deflected shot was acrobatically saved by Hugo Lloris and he maintained his purple patch with a superb goal.
Receiving the ball on the left side of the penalty area he cut back on to his right foot and curled an unstoppable effort to take his season’s tally to six in six.
Richarlison thought he had his first goal when he swept in a low cross from close range but his joy turned to despair as a VAR check ruled it out for offside.
Lloris then had to produce a stunning save to stop Mitrovic’s deflected shot looping into the corner.
“Tottenham deserved three points, our first half was not good enough, we didn’t get to our standards,” Fulham boss Marco Silva said after the match.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis and Hugh Lawson)