Fulham suffered a crushing late loss to Tottenham on Super Sunday but there was an impressive debut performance from Ryan Babel.
The former Liverpool forward went straight into the Fulham team following his permanent transfer from Turkish outfit Besiktas this week, making his first Premier League start in eight years.
He was unable to inspire Fulham to victory, as Spurs fought back from a goal down to claim the three points thanks to Harry Winks’ last-gasp winner, but the Dutchman’s eye-catching performance matched his bright red hairdo.
Ryan Babel in focus
4 – Picks up the ball just inside Tottenham’s half, attempting to turn before he is well tackled by Toby Alderweireld.
12 – Shows impressive speed and strength to hold off Davinson Sanchez and latch onto Aleksander Mitrovic’s flick-on, forcing a fine save from Hugo Lloris at his near post.
27 – Makes an intelligent diagonal run in behind Fulham’s defence, collecting a long ball over the top and getting a shot off before he is flagged offside.
40 – Rises highest to head Cyrus Christie’s diagonal cross from the right narrowly over the bar.
41 – Collects the ball on the left and digs out a fine cross to Andre Schurrle, whose volley is well saved by Lloris. Mitrovic scores from the rebound but it’s ruled offside.
44 – Gets hold of a Calum Chambers backheel in the Tottenham box but Jan Vertonghen makes a superb last-ditch tackle.
53 – Sends a dangerous cross into the box which is flicked on by Schurrle. Mitrovic then calls for a penalty as he is brought down by Lloris but replays show the Spurs ‘keeper got their first.
56 – His afternoon is over as he makes way for Ryan Sessegnon, with Claudio Ranieri eager to avoid overworking him. He gets a warm ovation from the home supporters.
Pundit verdict: Alex Scott
“He has brought them energy and a spark,” said Sky Sports pundit Alex Scott at half-time. “He has given this Fulham team a different dimension. Tottenham’s back three have struggled because he’s making those runs. He’s using his strength to get in there and he has provided them with a different option.”
- This was Babel’s first Premier League start since December 2010, when he scored for Liverpool in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
- Babel had the highest combined total of shots (three) and chances created (two) on the pitch despite his 56th-minute withdrawal.
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