Spurs sneak late win at Fulham
Vlad Chiriches' first Tottenham goal and a smart strike from Lewis Holtby spared manager Andre Villas-Boas' blushes as Spurs scrambled a 2-1 victory at Fulham.
Romania defender Chiriches' crisp 20-yard finish and an equally neat second from Holtby helped Spurs dispatch a spirited Fulham side desperate to start Rene Meulensteen's reign in style.
When Ashkan Dejagah capped Dimitar Berbatov's astute through-ball with a calm finish just before the hour, Fulham had capitalised on Spurs' first-half profligacy.
But the hosts were unable to hold that lead, with the defensive fragility that ended Martin Jol's tenure again costing dear.
And so it was Tottenham who ended a run of four Barclays Premier League matches without victory - with Fulham slipping to their sixth consecutive league defeat.
Tottenham wasted two gilt-edged chances in a first half heavy on application but little else, with Paulinho and Erik Lamela the guilty parties for Villas-Boas' men.
Spurs rallied when left with little option by a Fulham side scrapping for any kind of league foothold, and that proved enough for victory.
But Villas-Boas will know his men were nowhere near as fluent as he would expect, struggling to control the pace and tempo for much of the match.
Paulinho and Lamela wasted gilt-edged chances for Spurs in a first half Fulham shaded through territory and possession - but not clear opportunities.
Brazilian Paulinho fired wide after Jermain Defoe had sent him clear on goal, spurging the first definitive opportunity of the match.
The closest the home side came to a real chance was from Pajtim Kasami's early through-ball to Berbatov.
The Bulgaria striker looked well-placed to control and sneak through for a one-on-one with Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
But his first touch let him down at the crucial moment, and the half-chance evaporated on the icy autumn air.
After that it was Spurs' chance to turn wasteful once again.
Defoe cut clear on the left after a deep clearance, held up play well, and waited for Lamela's well-timed delayed run into the box.
The former West Ham striker's cut-back begged for a finish: instead Lamela side-footed wide.
Lamela was once again in action with a rising drive from the area's edge, but Stekelenburg was easily equal to the challenge.
Fulham plundered the lead when Dejagah capitalised on the plus side of Berbatov's enigma, cutting into the box after the Bulgarian's sharp pass to slide the ball past Lloris.
Meulensteen's men were unable to hold out though, with Chiriches firing in with a first-time strike after a loose headed clearance from a Fulham corner.
Just as Fulham looked to settle, Spurs struck again, Holtby smashing in another good finish, to floor the hosts.
Fulham pressed again at the death, but Berbatov clipped wide before Kasami struck the outside of a post with the final play, though Lloris was primed to save an on-target shot.