Spurs' victory against Leeds and draw at Liverpool suggested Glenn Hoddle had turned the corner - but this comprehensive defeat which ended in front of a half-empty ground revealed otherwise. Barry Hayles, who hit a solitary league goal last season, was the Fulham hero, bagging a brace and setting up Luis Boa Morte for the Cottagers' third.
Frederic Kanoute had spurned a fine early opportunity for Spurs, shooting at Edwin van der Sar when clean through. Hayles' scored a fine individual goal in the 22nd minute, shrugging off three defenders and arrowing a shot into the far corner. Spurs hit back with Kanoute's lob cleared off the line and Fulham full-back Moritz Volz heading against his own post. But Dean Richards' error let Hayles in on goal in the 66th minute - and the former carpenter made no mistake, shooting past Kasey Keller from 16 yards. Number three arrived four minutes later when Hayles drilled the ball across the six-yard box for Boa Morte to slide it home.
One bright spot for Hoddle was news his club have beaten Middlesbrough to the signing of Inter Milan midfielder Stephane Dalmat. The San Siro club agreed to loan the 24-year-old Frenchman to Boro - but Spurs nipped in and clinched a temporary deal stretching until the end of the season. Kanoute had almost put Hoddle's men ahead with 14 minutes on the clock. Rohan Ricketts cunningly cut inside from the left wing and fed the former West Ham frontman, whose shot was impressively blocked by the onrushing Edwin an derSar. The Cottagers hit back with Steed Malbranque, so often their main attacking thrust, forcing Keller into action with a fierce drive after Hayles' lay-off. At the other end, Mauricio Taricco sliced a yard wide of the far post from an excellent shooting position on the edge of the area. Fulham powered into the lead through Hayles' superb strike after 22 minutes. Chasing a through-ball down the inside-right channel, he shrugged off Richards, cut inside to evade two more defenders and drilled a left-foot shot into the far corner. The game burst into life again as half-time neared, with Ledley King side-footing straight at van der Sar from Carr's right-wing corner.
Hayles was operating as a lone striker and his confidence was clearly up as he tried an audacious 20-yard chip which was dipping beneath the bar before Keller spectacularly clawed it over the top. Spurs responded with Kanoute firing past the far post from 16 yards. Hoddle made an attacking substitution at the start of the second half, taking off centre-back King and throwing on striker Bobby Zamora. And Zamora went close to equalising when Kanoute beat van der Sar to a through-ball and lobbed goalwards. With the ball dropping beneath the Cottagers crossbar, Zamora charged in to apply the final touch but Fulham's 6ft 6in centre-back Zat Knight leapt to clear.
Only the woodwork denied Tottenham on the hour - sparing Fulham right-back Volz's blushes in the process. Kanoute nodded sub Darren Anderton's free-kick into the six-yard box and Volz, under pressure from Postiga, headed against his own post. The ball rebounded and was blasted clear by the visitors' defence. But it was Fulham who scored next, doubling their lead. Spurs centre-back Richards was the villain, wasting the opportunity to clear Malbranque's pass intended for Hayles. He dallied and allowed Hayles a clear run at goal. The 31-year-old made no mistake, slamming a left-foot shot past Keller from 16 yards to give Fulham a 2-0 lead. And things went from bad to worse for Spurs with 20 minutes left, as Fulham claimed a fine third goal. Malbranque teamed up with Hayles for the forward to drill the ball across the six-yard box - where Boa Morte slid in to beat Keller for number three. With some Spurs fans already leaving, van der Sar saved well from Ricketts. And Zamora was unable to get any power behind an awkward close-range prod which bobbled into van der Sar's grasp.