Fulham 1 Sunderland 0
Fulham climbed to eighth in the Premier League table with a 1-0 victory over Sunderland courtesy of an early goal from Bobby Zamora.
After the narrow 1-0 win over CSKA Sofia, in he Europa League, Fulham welcomed Sunderland to Craven cottage for a Premier League fixture.
Surprisingly, after returning from injury in midweek, Danny Murphy was left on the bench; his absence was one of six changes Roy Hodgson made with Paul Konchesky, Aaron Hughes, Jonathan Greening, Damien Duff, Clint Dempsey and Erik Nevland all returning.
On the bench for the opposition was ex-Fulham striker David Healy whilst another ex-player, Steed Malbranque was selected for the starting eleven.
With the action underway we didn`t have to wait for the first goal of the game. A move involving Duff and Pantsil saw Zamora head home for his sixth goal of the season. A great start for Roy Hodgson`s men.
Clear cut chances were at a premium but Clint Dempsey almost doubled the lead just past the quarter of an hour mark but his shot went wide. Erik Nevland, with twenty-four minutes played, also shot wide. Fulham were having the better of the attacking play and Dempsey fired another shot wide from inside the area.
With half an hour played, reputed Fulham target Anton Ferdinand was replaced by Nosworthy who`s first contribution was to concede a free kick which resulted in a Dempsey shot being saved.
Sunderland pushed forward winning a corner but Schwarzer saved comfortably before Duff fired over from outside the box. With the attacking action becoming more even Schwarzer was forced to save well from Reid, Richardson then saw his effort go wide.
As half time approached, another free kick presented Nevland with an opportunity but Fulop saved before Nevland smashed the loose ball over the bar.
Sunderland forced two corners immediately before the break the second of which saw Malbranque force Schwarzer into a save, but it was Fulham who went into the break leading by that goal scored by Bobby Zamora, after seven minutes and it could have been more if Zamora`s header hadn`t of hit the bar!
Dempsey was the first to try his luck with a shot in the second half but his effort went wide from outside the box. Kenwyne Jones, with ten minutes of the half gone; forced Schwarzer into a save.
Sunderland were pushing forward in search of an equaliser and Richardson produced a cross that saw Bent send a shot wide from the edge of the box. Just past the hour mark Nevland saw a shot, from the edge of the area, fly over the bar. It was to be the last piece of participation from Nevland who, midway through the half, was replaced by Gera.
Minutes later the ex-Fulham player, Malbranque was substituted by Steve Bruce who threw on an extra striker in the shape of Fraizer Campbell to try and salvage something from the game.
Gera`s first contribution saw him place a header wide. As we entered the last ten minutes, Sunderland were pushing forward. Greening got a block in to thwart from Bent whilst the defence coped admirably with two dangerous looking crosses that were thrown into our box.
To ease the onslaught Hodgson brought on Dikgacoi in place of Greening. Zenden, on as a sub, forced Schwarzer into a save as a nervous Craven Cottage edged towards the final whistle. Schwarzer then claimed a dangerous looking in-swinging corner from Reid, Fulham were now into injury time and hanging on well.
Thankfully stoppage time ended with the pressure back on Sunderland with Dempsey seeing a blocked shot go for a corner, a corner that produced a second as time was run down successfully to give Fulham all three points.