After the visitors had dominated the second period’s early stages, Fulham took the lead when Berbatov – who had just shot into the side netting - played a superbly-weighted pass into the path of Dejagah, the Iranian taking it in his stride and shooting low across Lloris.
Rene Meulensteen’s side looked in little trouble thereafter until, 73 minutes in, Chiriches struck a sweet, daisy-cutting half volley from fully 35 yards inside Stekelenburg’s near post after a corner had only been half cleared.
A winner looked likely, and it was the North London side who earned it when Holtby – who had come on for Etienne Capoue at the break - brought the ball inside Scott Parker and rifled a vicious left-footer high into the roof of Stekelenburg’s net.
There was still time to the hosts to come close twice, Bryan Ruiz’s deflected effort being kept out by Lloris’ best save of the night just seconds after his emergence from the bench, before Patjim Kasami rattled the near post after a goalmouth scramble with the game’s very last action.
It was hard on a revamped, invigorated home side – and a huge tonic for the beleaguered Andre Villas-Boas.
23’ CHANCE: Super save by Lloris! Berbatov controls and turns superbly, and the ‘keeper tips round brilliantly to his left.
24’ CHANCE: And then a big miss by Paulinho after Spurs break from the resulting corner. Fed by Defoe, the Brazilian does everything right before blazing over from ten yards when a sidefoot would have done.
33’ CHANCE: Lamela, playing on the left now, marauds forward and sees a 20-yarder deflect up off Senderos. Stekelenburg’s save, high to his left, is top drawer.
57’ GOAL: (Fulham 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur) Parker wins the ball on halfway, and Berbatov loops a beautiful ball to Dejagah, running clear down the inside right channel. The Iranian shoots superbly across Lloris.
74’ GOAL: (Fulham 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur) What a goal it was! A corner is cleared to Vlad Chiriches, some 35 yards out, and he cracks an inch-perfect daisy cutter past a motionless Stekelenburg, just inside his right post.
82’ GOAL (Fulham 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur) Holtby takes the ball inside Parker and lets rip from 20 yards. It flies into the roof of the net and that's a big, big goal for Spurs.
88’ CHANCE: Ruiz so nearly scores within ten seconds! A free kick is knocked down to him ten yards out, he lets fly with his left, it's deflected...and Lloris produces probably the save of the night.
90+4’ CHANCE: A last-gasp free kick from deep isn't cleared, and Kasami lashes the ball against Lloris' near post.
Fulham have now lost five of their first seven home Premier League fixtures for the first time .
They have also equalled their club Premier League record of six consecutive defeats.
Spurs have now won three consecutive top-flight games at Craven Cottage.
Lewis Holtby’s goal was his first in the Premier League for Spurs.
Just how valuable was that win for Andre Villas-Boas? It certainly wasn’t a 90-minute performance from his side, but two long-range bolts from then blue ensured that Spurs now lie just three points from fourth place. Question marks remain, particularly in attack – good chances were missed by Jermain Defoe, Erik Lamela and Paulinho – but this had the air of a game that might just be looked back on as a pivotal one in the context of Villas-Boas’ tenure.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur): The keeper celebrated his 50th appearance in style with some superb saves – one late stop from Bryan Ruiz’s deflected effort being quite phenomenal. He also thwarted Dimitar Berbatov twice from close range. It was a thrilling display of reflexes and positioning from the Frenchman, who looks back to his best after last month’s concussion at Goodison Park.
Fulham: Stekelenburg 8, Riether 7, Hughes 7, Senderos 7, Riise 7, Karagounis 8, Parker 6, Dejagah 7, Kasami 7, Kacaniklic 7, Berbatov 7. Subs: Sidwell 6, Duff 6, Ruiz 6
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris 9, Walker 7, Dawson 7, Chiriches 8, Vertonghen 6, Capoue 5, Sandro 7, Lennon 7, Paulinho 7, Lamela 7, Defoe 7. Subs: Holtby 8, Chadli 6, Townsend 7
THE MATCH IN A TWEET