Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Match Report:Fulham 3 West Brom 0

Fulham moved up five places and out of the Premier League relegation zone with an emphatic win over West Bromwich Albion at Craven Cottage on Tuesday.
West Brom goalkeeper Scott Carson handed Fulham the lead when he misjudged Simon Davies's well-struck drive on the stroke of half time.
Davies turned provider in the second half when his corner found Clint Dempsey's powerful header.
And Davies crossed for the third which Brede Hangeland headed in easily.
When these sides met at the Hawthorns in October, West Brom climbed into the top four with a 2-1 win.
But with the Baggies losing eight out of 11 matches since then and Fulham plummeting, both sides were under pressure to relieve relegation worries this time around.
Fulham manager Mark Hughes had been booed after his side's Boxing Day defeat by West Ham United at Craven Cottage but an encouraging away win over Stoke City and a narrow defeat at Tottenham in the meantime had improved the mood.
And it was Hughes's side who came out quickest, flooding forward and putting pressure on the inexperienced West Brom back-line which contained three enforced changes due to injuries.
The first opportunity of the match came when a long ball from Chris Baird found Diomansy Kamara, who controlled on the edge of the six-yard box, swivelled and forced a good save low down from Carson.
But while Fulham dominated possession, they created few clear-cut chances early on and West Brom continually threatened on the counter attack.
David Stockdale started in goal for the home side for the first time since August with Australian Mark Schwarzer away on Asian Cup duty.
And Fulham had the 25-year-old, who was tipped for an England call up after impressing early in the season, to thank for keeping the score level.
First Stockdale saved from Peter Odemwingie's low snap-shot before a through ball from Chris Brunt split the Fulham defence and found Jerome Thomas who went one-on-one with Stockdale but the keeper stood firm and saved well.
But West Brom's defensive problems got worse on the half hour mark when Marek Cech was caught on the knee by John Pantsil's trailing leg and the Slovakian had to be replaced by Nicky Shorey at left-back.
Suddenly, every set-piece was a great opportunity for Fulham to take advantage of a West Brom defence which had not previously played together.
And take advantage the Cottagers did. With five minutes to go until half-time, Hangeland should have given Fulham the lead when he rose high to meet Davies's corner but the Norwegian nodded wide of the left post with the goal at his mercy.
Hughes's side eventually took the lead when Davies was benefactor of a goalkeeping blunder, although West Brom had a good claim for a foul in the build up.
Dickson Etuhu appeared to dispossess Youssuf Mulumbu unfairly on the edge of the area but the referee waved play on. The midfielder then rolled the ball to Welshman Davies who unleashed a fierce effort which, while powerful, was straight at Carson, only for him to allow the ball to inexplicably slip through his hands.
Rather than sit back on their lead in the second half, Fulham pushed on for a second goal and almost found one when Damien Duff whistled a right-footed effort wide of the left post.
Minutes later they did double the lead when Dempsey leaped to head his seventh goal of the season from Davies's corner.
And when another Davies corner caused havoc, Hangeland was able to make it three as he ghosted into the box unmarked and headed between the legs of Carson.
The game could have turned into a rout had Fulham kept pushing but a series of substitutions slowed the pace and the home side were happy to play out a convincing victory which leaves them in mid-table and leaves West Brom in freefall after five straight defeats.

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