Premier League - Fulham win to escape drop zone

Tue, 04 Jan 22:00:00 2011

Fulham moved out of the Premier League relegation zone with a comfortable 3-0 victory over fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion at Craven Cottage.

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Simon Davies gave the Cottagers the lead on the stroke of half-time with a long-range effort that squeezed through Scott Carson’s hands, while second-half headers from Clint Dempsey and Brede Hangeland secured the three points.

Fulham now move to 13th in the table, while West Brom, whose best opportunity of a dismal night fell to Jerome Thomas in the first half, slip to 16th, just two points clear of the relegation zone.

Fulham were without a win in any of their previous five league fixtures at Craven Cottage, though they started strongly against a West Brom side who themselves have seen their league position plummet since a home win against Fulham back in October took them into the top four.

Diomansy Kamara was preferred to Andrew Johnson in attack for the Cottagers, and he drew a smart save from Scott Carson from a tight angle after superbly bringing down a long ball from Chris Baird on five minutes, before Peter Odemwingie stung the palms of Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale with a low shot at the other end.

Fulham were dominating in terms of possession, though the pace of the West Brom front line ensured they provided a threat on the counter-attack, and they very nearly took the lead when Chris Brunt threaded a fine through-ball for Thomas, only for the winger to fire his low shot too close to Stockdale.

Graham Dorrans then fired an ambitious long-range effort just over the bar for the Baggies, while Gianni Zuiverloon blocked superbly to deny Dempsey as Fulham brought the play back into the West Brom half.

Damien Duff then saw a deflected left-foot effort dribble just past the post with Carson scrambling across his line, and Hangeland was left with his head in his hands after thumping a towering header just wide from the resultant corner.

Frustration turned to joy for the home fans moments later, as a well-struck, swerving effort from 30 yards from Davies somehow went through the hands of Carson.

If the travelling West Brom fans expected a spirited second-half fightback from their side, then they were left sorely disappointed. Fulham’s superiority was even more marked after the break, and they took just 10 minutes to find the second goal that seemed to break the morale of their opponents.

West Brom’s weakness from defensive set pieces was exposed once again as Dempsey was left free to head Davies’s corner past Carson on 55 minutes, and it was almost an action replay 10 minutes later as Fulham grabbed their third goal of the night. This time Davies sent his corner long to the back post, and once Hangeland had managed to elude Brunt, he was free to send a thumping header down and past the hapless Carson.

Brunt sent a dipping shot just over the bar with a quarter of an hour remaining as West Brom finally emerged from their own half, while Dorrans dragged a low shot just wide of the post.

Odemwingie, after a poor night, finally sprang into life with a few minutes left, firing a vicious shot goalwards that Stockdale parried clear, but in truth it was no more than a token effort from a side who, though defensively under-strength, failed to show the sort of attacking enterprise that worried Manchester United on New Year’s Day.

Michael FitzGerald / Eurosport

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