News24

Fulham back on track

2012-03-31 19:08

London - Fulham ended a three-match losing run with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Norwich at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Martin Jol's side had slipped into lower mid-table after consecutive defeats to Aston Villa, Swansea and Manchester United.

But the west Londoners climbed back up to 11th place in the Premier League thanks to first half goals from Clint Dempsey and Damien Duff.

Norwich responded well and forced a nervy ending thanks to Aaron Wilbraham's 77th-minute effort but weren't able to salvage a point.

Fulham's 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford equalled a club worst run of three goalless Premier League outings. But that barren streak was ended inside the opening two minutes.

Fulham broke forward as Bryan Ruiz latched onto a long ball, turned and saw a low drive saved by goalkeeper John Ruddy, whose parry fell kindly for Dempsey to bundle home.

That was the American's 10th goal in all competitions this year and Fulham increased their lead in the 13th minute.

Again the Canaries were caught out by a quick surge forward as Dempsey slotted the ball through to Duff, who curled home a left-footed effort from inside the box.

Elliott Ward picked up the game's first booking for a challenge on Ruiz in the midst of the Cottagers' dominance and there were calls from the home faithful for the Norwich centre-back's dismissal after he was adjudged to have taken down Pavel Pogrebnyak minutes later.

The Russia international looked to have picked up a knock in the clash and was replaced in the 35th minute by debutant Alex Kacaniklic.

Only the goal frame and a last-ditch Ryan Bennett block prevented Fulham taking an unassailable lead on the stroke of half-time as Dempsey hit the post from an acute angle and Moussa Dembele saw his follow-up deflected behind.

Norwich tightened up in the second half and pushed hard for a goal, with Mark Schwarzer doing well to stop a Wes Hoolahan drive before Aaron Hughes brilliantly blocked Andrew Surman.

Moments after substitute Wilbraham shot wide from a good position, he made amends by reducing the deficit in the 77th minute as his effort deflected in off Hughes, but Fulham held on.

AFP