Villas-Boas' team were in danger of suffering another embarrassing setback when Ashkan Dejagah gave the struggling hosts a surprise lead early in the second half.

But Vlad Chiriches' first Tottenham goal and a cool finish from Holtby eight minutes from full-time spared Villas-Boas' blushes and gave the sixth placed north Londoners their first win in five Premier League matches.

While Villas-Boas was able to celebrate a much-needed three points, it was a frustrating start for Fulham's new manager Rene Meulensteen following Martin Jol's sacking at the weekend.

Fulham have lost six consecutive league matches and former Manchester United coach Meulensteen faces a tough task to lift the third bottom Cottagers out of the relegation zone.

Paulinho and Erik Lamela, two of Villas-Boas' under-performing big-money signings, wasted gilt-edged chances for Spurs in a first half that Fulham shaded through territory and possession.

Brazilian midfielder Paulinho fired wide after Jermain Defoe had sent him clear on goal, spurning the first definitive opportunity of the match.

The closest the home side came to a real chance was from Pajtim Kasami's early through-ball to Dimitar Berbatov.

The former Tottenham striker, reportedly keen to quit Craven Cottage in the January transfer window, looked well-placed to control and sneak through for a one-on-one with Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

But his first touch let him down at the crucial moment and the half-chance was gone.

After that it was Spurs' chance to turn wasteful once again.

Defoe cut clear on the left after a deep clearance, held up play well, and waited for Lamela's well-timed delayed run into the box.

The former West Ham striker's pass begged for a finish but instead Lamela side-footed wide.

Lamela was once again in action with a rising drive from the edge of the area, but Fulham goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg was easily equal to the challenge.

Fulham took a surprise lead in the 56th minute when Dejagah capitalised on fine work by Berbatov, cutting into the box after the Bulgarian's sharp pass to slide the ball past Lloris.

But Meulensteen's men were unable to hold out, with Romania defender Chiriches firing in with a first-time strike after a loose headed clearance from a Fulham corner in the 73rd minute.

Just as Fulham looked to hit back, Spurs struck again to steal the points when German midfielder Holtby smashed home in the 82nd minute to claim his first Premier League goal since his move from Schalke in January.

Fulham pressed for an equaliser, but Berbatov clipped wide before Kasami struck the outside of a post with the final chance.