Jose Mourinho slammed Tottenham’s “avoidable” mistakes and lack of killer instinct after Fulham’s Ivan Cavaleiro rescued a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
Harry Kane had put the hosts ahead in the first half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but Cavaleiro struck in the closing stages to leave Mourinho frustrated.
Tottenham have won just two of their last eight league matches and sit in sixth place.
A win against third bottom Fulham would have taken them into third place above Manchester City, who made it four successive league victories when Phil Foden earned a 1-0 win over Brighton earlier on Wednesday.
Whether Spurs – six points behind leaders Manchester United – will be regarded as title contenders for much longer must be in doubt after this sloppy display.
“Once more we concede a goal that is completely avoidable. You have to keep a clean-sheet, not make mistakes. The markers are there. There wasn’t even an advantage in terms of numbers,” Mourinho said.
“We have lots of opportunities to kill off matches. In other cases especially away we are winning but then don’t have that ambition to get the goal and kill the game.
“There are things that are individual mistakes. We have bad results and we should avoid these results.”
Cavaleiro’s leveller was a suitably dramatic end to the feud between Mourinho and Fulham manager Scott Parker, triggered when Aston Villa’s coronavirus outbreak meant Spurs’ scheduled trip to Villa Park on Wednesday was postponed.
Instead, Tottenham’s game against Fulham – originally called off in December because of Covid cases in the Cottagers squad – was moved on Monday to help ease a potential fixture pile-up for Mourinho’s team.
Parker said it was “scandalous” for his team to be forced to play at such short notice.
Mourinho hit back, saying he would only feel sorry for Fulham if they played a weakened team.
So he would have noted with interested that Fulham named a strong team with nine of the 11 that played their last Premier League game on Boxing Day.
But it was Parker who had the last laugh and he said: “I’m very proud of this team for what we’ve been through. There’s a lot of talk around, everyone assumes about what happened. I know what we’ve been through the last two weeks.
“This game was supposed to be scheduled 16 days ago - for 10 days some of these boys were locked up in their houses (self isolating).
“We had players out there who had one day’s training. What pleased me most was a desire and a real quality at times.”
Fulham looked capable of troubling Tottenham right from the start and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s fierce strike forced a good save from Hugo Lloris.
Alphonse Areola made an even better stop to push Son Heung-min’s curler over the bar, but Tottenham struck first in the 25th minute.
Harry Winks’ sweeping pass found Sergio Reguilon on the left wing and he whipped an inch perfect cross into the six-yard box, where Kane dived to power a spectacular header past Areola for his 18th goal of the season.
Not even the prolific Kane is perfect and the Tottenham star squandered a good chance to double the lead moments later when he headed over from Serge Aurier’s cross.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was guilty of a bad miss when he shot straight at Areola from Kane’s pass.
Son held his head in his hands after the South Korea forward surged clear, only to see his low strike hit the far post and rebound to Areola.
Those misses proved crucial as Fulham snatched an equaliser in the 73rd minute.
Ademola Lookman sent over a superb cross from the left side of the Tottenham area and Cavaleiro got between Reguilon and Eric Dier to plant a brilliant header past Lloris.
City made to work hard
Phil Foden fired Manchester City into third place as Pep Guardiola’s men saw off a feisty challenge from Brighton to win 1-0.
Much of the recent talk has been about a potential duel between leaders Manchester United and champions Liverpool but Pep Guardiola’s men are now right in the mix.
The 2018 and 2019 champions started the season sluggishly but have hit the accelerator in recent weeks and are now just one point behind Liverpool with a game in hand.
City played without a recognised striker against Graham Potter’s Brighton but despite not being at their fluent best in soggy Manchester, Foden’s first-half goal proved enough.
“We knew how tough it would be,” Guardiola told the BBC. “Brighton had a good mentality to play.
“We had a really good first half and had chances. After we missed a really clear chance in the second half they were better.
“We need to win these sort of games. It is a good lesson for us. Every game will be like this.”
The home side had a golden chance to take an early lead when the impressive Kevin De Bruyne was put through by Ilkay Gundogan but goalkeeper Robert Sanchez blocked the Belgian’s right-footed shot.
Brighton’s Leandro Trossard had a chance to test the returning Ederson in the City goal but he bent his shot wide.
As City found their rhythm, Brighton defender Joel Veltman reacted well to clear and De Bruyne had another chance five minutes from half-time after a swift break but his powerful shot was well saved.
City’s pressure finally told in the 44th minute. Foden received the ball from De Bruyne on the left of the attack.
The 20-year-old wriggled past two Brighton defenders and stroked the ball inside the near post from the edge of the box with his right foot.
It was the England international’s eighth goal of the season – he is City’s top-scorer in all competitions.
Riyad Mahrez could have doubled City’s lead shortly before the hour mark but sent his left-footed shot wide after being put through.
Moments later City again went close again. Gundogan forced a good save from Sanchez and the rebound fell to Bernardo Silva, who turned and thumped a shot against the woodwork.
Brighton’s goal was leading a charmed life and Sanchez denied Joao Cancelo and De Bruyne as the home side kept probing.
But City lacked the control they had in the first period and never looked entirely comfortable with such a narrow lead.
Brighton engineered some promising situations but failed to properly test Ederson – they had just one shot on target in the whole match.
De Bruyne won a late penalty after Sanchez brought him down but substitute Raheem Sterling blazed his spot-kick over the bar.
City are now unbeaten in their past 14 games in all competitions and have won seven in a row.
Guardiola’s team have largely brushed off the absences of a number of players as a result of various coronavirus issues.
Sergio Aguero missed out again as he continues his period in self-isolation after being identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
But Ederson was back in goal following a spell on the sidelines after testing positive and Gabriel Jesus, who also contracted the virus, appeared as a second-half substitute.