Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Fulham win London derby

Dimitar Berbatov had a happy birthday at Craven Cottage

Dimitar Berbatov celebrated his 32nd birthday with a vital - if offside - goal that spurred Fulham onto a 3-1 victory against London rivals West Ham.

Fulham came out swinging, with Berbatov nodding home the opener just 10 minutes in but the Hammers showed impressive fight by the Thames, levelling things up through captain Kevin Nolan in the 48th minute.

That lasted just a minute, though, as Hugo Rodallega bundled home a Damien Duff cross to put Fulham on course for their second league win of 2013, which was secured in stoppage time when Joey O'Brien inadvertently put into his own goal.

After seeing Joe Cole shoot wide after 19 seconds, Fulham forced the east Londoners onto the backfoot during a bright opening.

Guy Demel did well to stop Duff latching onto a looped through ball from Berbatov, before Winston Reid denied the latter after neat link-up play.

Duff fired across the face of goal moments as Fulham pressed for an opener that came in the 10th minute. Duff sent across a free-kick from the right, which looked to take the slightest of touches off Bryan Ruiz as it made its way to Berbatov to head home. It was a moment of luck for the hosts as the Bulgarian was offside when the ball was whipped in.

The Hammers pressed from the restart and grabbed an equaliser in the 48th minute. Mark Noble played a quick free-kick that caught the hosts off guard and Nolan did well to fire a low left-footed strike from an acute angle past Mark Schwarzer.

The stalemate lasted for just a minute, though. Duff burst down the left flank and sent in a cross that Rodallega reached ahead of West Ham's defenders to bundle home.

Berbatov soon lashed inches wide as play swung from end to end, with Joe Cole claiming a penalty against Brede Hangeland.

Fulham wrapped up victory in stoppage time as Jussi Jaaskelainen parried a shot into Mladen Petric's path and his dinked effort was directed home off O'Brien.

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