Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Tuesday January 1 2013
Fulham won for the first time ever, in the Premier League at the Hawthorns and grabbing three well deserved points.
After the loss, at home to Swansea on Boxing Day, Martin Jol made one change to his starting eleven brining in Kacaniklic for Frei. With Schwarzer still suffering with a neck injury Stockdale continued in goal.
Fulham started well and an early cross from Briggs, apart from being wayward, signalled their early intent. Berbatov then began to show his influence, one pass sending Ruiz away down the left with his cross earning a corner. From the corner an excellent clearing header from Brunt, prevented Berbatov from getting an effort on target.
Still on the offensive, Sidwell tried his luck from range but his effort cleared the bar. Our hosts first effort saw McAuley head wide, from a free kick. West Brom then forced a couple of corners, the first after god work from Lukaku and the second after Hangeland turns the first behind.
As West Brom started to get on top a great tackle from Sidwell denied Lukaku but from the resulting corner Tamas sent a header wide. An error from Brunt presented Berbatov with a chance but the Bulgarian opted to try his luck from distance, instead of opting for a one-on-one with Foster, but his shot was wayward and the opportunity had gone.
Although Fulham were doing well possession wise, with both Berbatov and Ruiz dropping into midfield, there was no outlet ball available. A rare effort, on goal, from Karagounis, sailed over the bar. But Fulham were soon to take the lead and the scorer was to be that man Berbatov.
The goal was of stunning quality as Fulham launched a counter-attack following a West Brom corner. When the corner was cleared to Karagounis he found Berbatov in the centre circle and he provided the perfect ball to Dejagah on the right. After beating his man he cut the ball back and there was Berbatov waiting to side-foot home from eighteen yards out.
West Brom 0 Fulham 1 (Berbatov - 39 minutes)
West Brom responded well with Mulumbu heading just wide from a tempting cross. But the half time whistle blew with Fulham leading.
Half Time - West Brom 0 Fulham 1
West Brom got the action under way in the second half and a mere three minutes later were level when Lukaku scored. Finishing off a fine cross from Jones, although was there a hint of offside?
West Brom 1 Fulham 1 (Lukaku - 49 minutes)
Our hosts continued to push us back and Lukaku almost netted a second shrugging off a challenge from Hughes before seeing his shot hit the post. Struggling to contain West Brom, Fulham were relieved when Stockdale saved, with his feet, from Lukaku before Gera struck the rebound against the post and Hughes produced a great goal-line clearance to deny Brunt.
But, it has to be said, against the run of play, Fulham went ahead again through Kacaniklic. Ruiz, relieving the pressure, played a ball over the top, Kacaniklic beat two defenders with a deft turn before rolling the ball under Foster and into the net.
West Brom 1 Fulham 2 (Kakaniklic - 58 minutes)
Chasing the game, Steve Clarke made two changes bringing on Long and Odemwingie and taking off Gera and Fortune.
Fulham almost got in a third time but Sidwell delayed his ball through to Berbatov and the offside flag went up. Lukaku, proving to be a thorn in our side, almost levelled matters up but his header went just wide.
As the final whistle drew nearer, Odemwinge saw a cross hacked away before a shot from Berbatov, from 25 yards out, was deflected away. Lukaku then headed a corner wid. Fulham survived a late scare when Jones wriggled past two defenders only to see Hughes knee the ball to safety before greeting the final whistle with a huge, collective, sigh of relief at getting the three points available.
Date:Tuesday January 1 2013
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