Fulham boss Ranieri left shaking after Tottenham defeat
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The Italian was disheartened by Spurs’ stoppage time goal, but still believes his side can avoid relegation
Claudio Ranieri cut a frustrated figure after he watched Tottenham Hotspur grab a last-gasp winner over his Fulham team on Sunday in the Premier League.
The struggling west Londoners were heading for their first point of 2019 when three minutes of stoppage time was added on at Craven Cottage.
And in the 93rd minute, Harry Winks stole in at the back post to head home for Spurs to make it 2-1 and give Mauricio Pochettino’s team a hard-fought victory.
Ranieri, normally so assured, was shaking with anger at times while reflecting on the loss come full time.
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He said: “It’s unbelievable. Our first half was fantastic and we had also a penalty, but the referee didn’t see and the penalty is when the referee blows his whistle. There was a big penalty on Mitrovic, but this is okay and I think it was a good match.
“The first half was fantastic. Second half we controlled the match in a defensive way and we gave a gift in the first goal and the second goal it is unbelievable to explain.
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“We have a free kick and I tried to call my players and why we have to put the ball in the box? Why? We lacked experience.”
Fulham manager’s continued: “Stay calm, stay calm and keep possession and finish the match. After three minutes of extra time - 48 seconds - they score a goal, but we are alive, we are alive and we continue to fight.
“The team showed a fantastic performance and I can only say well done, well done, but stay very, very smart until the end.”
While it was jubilation for Spurs, it was heartbreak for Fulham and their supporters, who were not optimistic before kick-off.
One fan could be heard insisting “if we come away with anything other than a defeat it will be a minor miracle” and that was facing a Tottenham team missing Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and Moussa Sissoko.
It started so well for the Cottagers and Fernando Llorente’s own-goal after 17 minutes gave them a deserved lead.
They had other opportunities with Ryan Babel denied by Hugo Lloris before the first goal, and he also headed over in the 40th minute.
Seconds later and Tottenham’s captain made a superb save to deny Andre Schurrle on the volley and although Aleksandar Mitrovic put the rebound in, it was correctly disallowed for offside.
The second half was a different story and once Dele Alli equalised in the 51st minute it was largely one-way traffic.
Fulham, to their credit, did defend well, but Danny Rose still hit the crossbar and then Llorente headed wide from close range.
It seemed like it was going to finish all square and Spurs were going to draw their first league game of the season, but substitute Georges-Kevin Nkoudou produced a superb cross into the area and Winks was there to head home from a few yards.
Tottenham celebrated wildly and Ranieri could only hang his head in complete horror, he said: “We must continue to give the maximum in every match. I want to say thank you to our supporters because they push a lot behind us.
“I am positive because when you play this kind of football and this kind of performance we must believe and I believe in my players.
“Of course we have to change something, but if you continue to fight you are to change something.”
Fulham may be seven points from safety, but there were a lot of positives for them to take from Sunday’s encounter.
The likes of Calum Chambers and Jean Michael Seri produced strong displays and if they continue to play like that, with Babel and Mitrovic providing some much-needed goals in attack, they will start picking up points again.
Ranieri loves a fairytale, so don’t write Fulham off just yet. With a little bit of belief almost anything is possible and the Italian knows that better than most.