Bale keeps Spurs marching on
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Fulham 0: Gareth Bale's lightning reflexes proved enough to extend Tottenham's perfect Christmas and send them back into the Barclays Premier League top four with a 1-0 win in the London derby with Fulham.
The winger reacted brilliantly to flick Rafael van der Vaart's free-kick strike past a wrong-footed Mark Schwarzer three minutes before half-time. Spurs missed plenty of chances to add to their lead but Michael Dawson also had to clear off his own line.
Otherwise, Fulham's lack of firepower once again cost them dear as they slipped to second bottom of the table, piling the pressure on manager Mark Hughes.
The build-up to the game was dominated by the news Spurs were trying to sign David Beckham on loan. Otherwise, Fulham proved stubborn in the extreme, buoyed by their first win in 27 away games at Stoke on Tuesday.
But just as the first half looked set to end goalless, their two star men combined in unconventional fashion to put them ahead.
Spurs were awarded a 42nd-minute free-kick and Bale got in the way of Van der Vaart's 30-yard shot only to deliberately flick a header past Schwarzer.
Fulham were demonstrating the lack of cutting edge which has been their undoing since Bobby Zamora broke his leg, with Danny Murphy, Clint Dempsey and Damien Duff all sending 25-yard efforts wide.
Aaron Lennon blew another good chance to deliver a cross before the visitors almost scored a freak equaliser. Heurelho Gomes parried Andrew Johnson's shot straight into Dawson, who spared his own blushes by clearing off the line.
Suddenly, it was all Fulham and Spurs boss Harry Redknapp reacted midway through the half by withdrawing Roman Pavlyuchenko for Peter Crouch.
Fulham poured forward in stoppage-time and Spurs were hanging on at the end, but hang on they did.