Belfast Telegraph

Dempsey inspires victory over Stoke

Fulham had the last laugh in this season's feud with Stoke by completing a Barclays Premier League double over them to edge closer to safety with a 2-0 victory.

Top scorer Clint Dempsey netted his eighth and ninth goals of the season as the Cottagers made it three win in five to put daylight between themselves and the drop zone.

This match was the third tempestuous affair between the sides this season and Potters captain Ryan Shawcross was sent off after bundling over Dempsey in the box. The American, who had already given his side a half-time lead, stepped up to convert the resulting penalty and seal a comfortable victory.

The opposing managers had refused to shake hands following their two previous meetings this season. But Fulham boss Mark Hughes was keen on Friday to end the feud, and he duly made the first move as he greeted Tony Pulis before the game.

The home fans were not so generous, repeatedly jeering Andy Wilkinson for the September tackle on Moussa Dembele that sparked the bad blood.

Pulses were racing from the off and Damien Duff crashed a terrific 30-yard strike against the crossbar while at the other end, Kenwyne Jones blasted the ball against the post.

Danny Murphy was narrowly off target after being invited to shoot from 20 yards before David Stockdale saved Tuncay's low strike from the tightest of angles.

Dempsey gave the hosts the lead after 33 minutes when Duff pounced on a loose ball, allowing Andy Johnson to get to the byline and cross for Dempsey to slide home ahead of Wilkinson.

In the 55th minute, Dempsey produced a wondrous piece of control to take Murphy's long ball around Shawcross, who bundled him over to concede a penalty.

Referee Stuart Attwell brandished a red card and Dempsey blasted the penalty straight down the middle to seal the win.

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