It has become a familiar pattern for Tottenham under Jose Mourinho this season: take the lead, retreat, invite opponents on, and eventually concede.
The same thing happened again on Wednesday, and it cost the team a place in the Premier League’s top four.
Leading through a rarely seen diving header put away emphatically by Harry Kane, Tottenham couldn’t hold out against a Fulham side playing the game on just two days’ notice – much to the chagrin of its manager.
Ivan Cavaleiro scored a header of his own in the 74th minute to earn Fulham a 1-1 draw at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, giving Mourinho that sinking feeling he is starting to know well.
After all, Tottenham has conceded second-half equalizers in draws against Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton over the past month. In that period, there was also the 90th-minute header scored by Roberto Firmino to earn Liverpool a 2-1 win over Spurs at Anfield.
Earlier in the season, Tottenham squandered home leads in draws against Newcastle and West Ham.
Mourinho’s renowned pragmatism is well-received by supporters of his teams if it pays off. It feels like a wasted opportunity when it doesn’t.
Tottenham would have moved into third place with a win, but instead dropped to sixth place because Manchester City beat Brighton 1-0 in the day’s other game.
Phil Foden was the match-winner for City with a piece of skill followed by an unerring finish that capped a performance – delivered in front of England coach Gareth Southgate – which was the latest reminder of the 20-year-old midfielder’s massive talent.
City toiled at times against Brighton, especially in the final 30 minutes when the visitors pushed more players forward, but had plenty of chances to win the game by a much bigger margin.
City jumped to third place and is four points behind. City’s much-improved defence made it four clean sheets in its past five games, with the only goal conceded coming in the final seconds of the 3-1 win at Chelsea.