Rickie Lambert's penalty cancelled out Dimitar Berbatov's opener as Fulham and Southampton drew 1-1 at Craven Cottage.
Berbatov opened the scoring with eight minutes on the clock, but despite being the better side in the first half Martin Jol's men were unable to build on their lead and endured a rough ride holding onto the slender advantage.
And when Chris Baird handballed inside his own area at a corner five minutes from time, Lambert smashed home the equaliser from 12 yards despite Mark Schwarzer's best efforts.
After a patchy start to the contest in the soggy conditions at the Cottage, the home side were the first to bed into proceedings and after Steve Sidwell fired disappointingly wide from 20 yards, Berbatov broke the deadlock.
Converting from close range after the Saints defenders failed to deal with Sascha Riether’s cross from the right, the Bulgarian showed a penchant for dated memes by removing his shirt to show the message ‘Keep calm and pass me the ball’.
The joke earned him an obligatory yellow card for removing his shirt, but the hosts soon had bigger things to worry about as Southampton responded well to going behind.
Jack Cork’s drive was well held by Schwarzer while Jason Puncheon and Gaston Ramirez were kept relatively quiet on the channels before Fulham took control of the game again, winning a series of corners and attacking throws.
As rain continued to lash down in South-West London, the Cottagers almost paid the price for the difficult conditions when Schwarzer twice failed to adequately clear his lines before John Arne Riise completely lost track of the ball, allowing Cork to set up a Ramirez half-chance.
After the interval Steven Davis had two chances to bring his side back on level terms while Jason Puncheon caused countless problems for the Whites’ back line on the counter attack.
Lambert had a massive chance to score on 78 when he volleyed over the cross bar from inside the area, but would eventually finish a tough shift on a good note when referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot in the closing stages.
Fulham were furious with what they felt was a case of the striker leaning into Baird and causing his arm to drift into harm’s way, but the decision stood and Lambert converted despite Schwarzer getting his hands on the penalty.
The result gives Nigel Adkins’ side a valuable away point as they continue their attempts to move away from the bottom three, while the London club find themselves six points from safety after one win in 11.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Maya Yoshida, Southampton - A string of vital blocks and challenges helped keep the Saints in the contest until the late penalty earned them a draw.
FULHAM: Schwarzer 6, Riether 7, Hangeland 6, Senderos 6, Riise 5, Dejagah 7, Sidwell 6, Baird 7, Kacanikic 6, Berbatov 7, Rodallega 6. Subs: Karagounis 5, Ruiz 6, Frei 5.
SOUTHAMPTON: K Davis 6, Clyne 6, Fonte 7, Yoshida 8, Shaw 7, Schneiderlin 6, Cork 7, S Davis 7, Puncheon 7, Ramirez 7, Lambert 6. Subs: Rodriguez 5, Guly n/a.
- Sports & Recreation
- Dimitar Berbatov
- Mark Schwarzer
- Rickie Lambert
- Jason Puncheon