Fulham 1 Tottenham 3
Fulham did boss Martin Jol proud against his former club but were unable to prevent Tottenham picking up their seventh win in eight matches.
Jol, sacked by Spurs four years ago, can take encouragement from a high-tempo performance that belied the fact that this was the Whites’ third match in the space of six days.
The visitors rode their luck, not least when they went ahead courtesy of a 10th-minute own goal by the unfortunate Chris Baird, who deflected the ball into the net after Gareth Bale had fired in from an acute angle.
It came against the run of play – as did Spurs’ second, which arrived shortly before the interval when Aaron Lennon exchanged passes with Bale before speeding past Baird and smashing home off the far post.
Things got worse still for Fulham on the stroke of half-time, when Zdenek Grygera was carried off after appearing to suffer a serious knee injury.
Jol’s men pulled one back through Younes Kaboul’s own goal early in the second half but were unable to find an equaliser despite non-stop pressure on Spurs, whose manager Harry Redknapp was not at Craven Cottage.
And substitute Jermain Defoe netted a third for Tottenham in injury time, belting in a volley after Emmanuel Adebayor had cut the ball back.
Redknapp was better off at home, because this was certainly not a game for a man convalescing after heart surgery.
Fulham were relentless and will wonder how on earth they lost, with the sickening injury to Grygera summing up their misfortune.
The Czech defender went down in agony after seemingly catching his studs in the turf and his right leg was heavily strapped as he was stretchered away.
Fulham had already suffered a pre-match injury setback when in-form striker Andrew Johnson was ruled out.
After Thursday’s Europa League win against Wisla Krakov, Johnson declared that Fulham’s players would be fully fit and ready to face Spurs despite the north London side having rested key players for their European match on the same night.
Johnson unfortunately ended up sitting out the game, but his words rang true as Fulham looked anything but tired during a first half they somehow ended 2-0 down.
They started at a furious pace and Tottenham’s veteran keeper Brad Friedel produced a fine save to keep out Steve Sidwell’s early header.
But Spurs edged ahead when Kyle Walker burst down the right and found Lennon, whose cross was retrieved at the far post by Bale and the Welshman’s persistence was rewarded with a fortuitous deflection off Baird.
Undeterred, Fulham continued to push forward and Clint Dempsey should have done better than shoot straight at Friedel after being set up by Sidwell.
The West Londoners were hit with another sucker punch when Lennon finished ruthlessly, and Grygera’s injury gave them every reason to feel sorry for themselves.
They didn’t – and were finally rewarded for their efforts when Ledley King’s headed clearance from former Spurs man Danny Murphy’s corner hit Kaboul on the back and went in.
Having kick-started their Premier League season by recovering from two down to draw at home to leaders Manchester City, Fulham sensed another great comeback and Friedel was forced to make another good save, this time to keep out Moussa Dembele’s shot.
And when Friedel was rounded by Dempsey after the American latched onto a through-ball from substitute Bryan Ruiz, King intervened with a fine last-ditch challenge.
Bobby Zamora led the line brilliantly for Fulham against his former club and will surely have impressed the watching England manager Fabio Capello.
But he could not take a late chance to equalise, seeing his effort saved by the outstanding Friedel, who also produced a stunning save to deny Dembele during a goalmouth scramble in which Walker appeared to handle the ball while lying on the floor.
Fulham should have been given a penalty. Instead they were given another kick in the teeth when Defoe struck in the dying seconds.