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Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 10:52:40 PM
Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 10:52:40 PM
by josh reich
LONDON (Reuters) - Manager Felix Magath insists Fulham can avoid relegation despite Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur that leaves them third from bottom of the Premier League with three matches remaining.
Consecutive wins over Aston Villa and Norwich City had given the west Londoners hope they could produce a late relegation escape act but the defeat leaves them on 30 points, two behind 17th-placed Norwich City who host leaders Liverpool on Sunday.
Brazil midfielder Paulinho opened the scoring for Spurs after 35 minutes before Steve Sidwell, who also missed a 75th- minute penalty, equalised soon after.
Harry Kane netted for the third consecutive match, after halftime, and defender Younes Kaboul added a third goal on 62 minutes to keep Spurs in sixth spot with 63 points.
German Magath, Fulham's third manager of the season after Martin Jol and Rene Muelensteen were both sacked, said getting a point at White Hart Lane would have been a bonus, but it was their home matches against Hull City and Crystal Palace that would determine their top-flight status.
Their other remaining match is away at Stoke City.
"If we had got any point here it would be an extra point for us, we have to win our home games," Magath told BT Sport.
"We have two left, so I think I we can manage it. We stay up."
Colombian Hugo Rodallega, who had struggled for game time for much of the season but scored in Fulham's wins over Villa and Norwich, had the first sight of goal but was unable to get a shot on target after latching onto a lofted through-ball, while Kaboul headed over the bar after the visitors failed to clear a corner.
Spurs have been guilty of over-complicating things at times this season but their opener came in simple fashion, with Paulinho tapping home his fifth league goal from a yard out after Christian Eriksen's free kick evaded the Fulham defence.
Spurs were unable to hold their advantage, however, with poor defending by Zeki Fryers allowing Sidwell to collect his own pass inside the box and place the ball past keeper Hugo Lloris.
The goal was the least Fulham deserved after an industrious opening half, despite lacking in moments of real skill, but they were staring down the barrel soon after the break when 20-year-old Kane scored for the third consecutive match, beating Johnny Heitinga to Aaron Lennon's cross.
Spurs nearly conceded immediately after taking the lead for the second time, but the impressive Lloris got a strong hand to Rodallega's header.
The hosts gave themselves breathing space just after the hour mark in similar fashion to the opener, with Kaboul on the end of Eriksen's free kick as the Fulham defence was again left wanting at a set-piece.
It was the Dane's fifth assist in his last five matches as he finishes his debut Premier League season in strong fashion after joining Tottenham from Ajax Amsterdam.
The third goal appeared to knock the fight out of Fulham, but they were given a lifeline when Eriksen was penalised for handball with 15 minutes left.
Sidwell was unable to take advantage, however, with Lloris palming the ball away as Spurs won three consecutive home matches for the first time this season.
"It's all about points at this stage of the season, we've had enough good performances this season and not got anything out of it," Spurs manager Tim Sherwood said.
"I didn't think it was a horrendous performance but it wasn't fantastic, but we managed to score three goals.
"This team will always score goals, it's just if we can stop conceding them, and if Hugo's on that sort of form, I have every confidence."
(Editing by Tony Jimenez/Rex Gowar)
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