Fulham vs. Sunderland  1 - 3

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Premier League: Fulham 1 Sunderland 3

18 November 2012 19:16

Sunderland's dismal run of Premier League form came to an end on Sunday as they ran out 3-1 victors against 10-man Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Fulham's hopes took a hammer blow on the half-hour mark when Brede Hangeland was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Lee Cattermole, and Steven Fletcher put Sunderland ahead five minutes into the second half.

Mladen Petric briefly pulled the home side level just after the hour mark, but a header from Carlos Cuellar on 65 minutes and a 25-yard thunderbolt from Stephane Sessegnon five minutes later gave Martin O'Neill's side their second win of the season.

After a dire opening half an hour, in which Steve Sidwell's scuffed effort was the only shot registered on target, a loose pass from Giorgios Karagounis - symptomatic of the quality game - cost Fulham dearly.

The Greek midfielder sold Hangeland short, and after the centre-back lunged to beat the on-coming Cattermole to the ball, referee Lee Probert brandished a red card for what he deemed to be a two-footed tackle.

Sunderland almost made their advantage count immediately, but Sessegnon was unable to make the most of a free run on goal when played in by Phil Bardsley. Instead of shooting, the ex-PSG man opted to find the run of Fletcher and Aaron Hughes easily cut out the danger.

Berbatov, the focus of much pre-match hype, failed to truly test Simon Mignolet in the opposition goal, with his opportunities limited due to a number of offside calls. The Bulgarian did manage to find space on the right-hand flank as the opening 45 drew to a close, yet he dragged his shot wide.

John Arne Riise's deflected effort crashed off the bar as the second half began with a flurry of chances resulting in Sunderland taking the lead. Fletcher peeled off substitute Philippe Senederos well to control Adam Johnson's superb ball before calmly poking home beyond Mark Schwarzer.

The hosts were forced into their third change of the evening after the hour mark, with Petric coming on in place of the injured Bryan Ruiz, and the striker made an immediate impact. Damien Duff just beat the offside trap before driving the ball across the face of goal for the Croatian to finish.

Yet with Fulham temporarily down to nine men as Petric received treatment off the field, the Black Cats restored their lead and then some. Carlos Cuellar rose to head home his first goal for Martin O'Neill's side, before Sessegnon crashed the ball in off the post with a fabulous strike from 25 yards.

Minutes later, a neat turn set Petric free but the 31-year-old was unable to add to his tally, as Sunderland held on to seal a vital away victory that sees them climb three points clear of the relegation zone.

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Jol praises Berbatov´s class

18 November 2012 13:22

Fulham manager Martin Jol has praised in-form forward Dimitar Berbatov as an 'entertainer'.

Jol also described the 31-year-old as a 'fantastic footballer' following his impressive start to the Premier League season.

The former Manchester United striker has scored five goals and assisted three more in seven games for Fulham this season, with the Cottagers ninth on the table before Sunday's game against Sunderland.

And, while the 56-year-old manager admits that the mercurial finisher may not necessarily want to entertain people, he argues that it comes naturally to the Bulgarian - and he would not change him.

"I don't think he likes to be an entertainer but he entertains with his style and I don't want to take that away from him," Jol told the Daily Telegraph.

Berbatov put in an impressive performance as the Cottagers drew 3-3 away to Arsenal on November 10, scoring two and setting up another, with one of the goals coming from the penalty spot.

Jol suggested that the striker's method of pausing to wait for the goalkeeper to dive before striking the spot kick makes him unique in the English game.

"He wanted to show me that his last penalty was not a coincidence," the Dutchman recalled. "I said: 'Please, next time, just put it in the net, don't wait for the keeper'.

"But he did it because I had said to him that there's no player playing in England who can wait for the keeper (to dive). And that's what he did. But he did it in front of 60,000 people. And that's quite different - and he's different."

Despite Berbatov's sullen appearance in the eyes of some fans, Jol sees a different image of the player, continuing: "People think he's a sulker and on the field they think he might not be giving 100 per cent but in his mind he is giving everything for the team and you have to accept that.

"I accept that and he's a fantastic footballer."

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O´Neill backs Sunderland to score

17 November 2012 15:11

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill believes they are on the right track to solving their goalscoring woes.

Adam Johnson became only the second Sunderland player to score in the Premier League this season after they took the lead in their 2-1 loss against Everton last Saturday.

The Black Cats face Fulham on Sunday and will aim to pull away from the relegation fight which they have fallen into in recent weeks.

"From our viewpoint it's very obvious that we need to score a few more goals and to do that we need to create more openings," O'Neill told Sunderland's official website.

"I think we're starting to do that. We could have been 3-0 up at half time (against Everton) but weren't - we suffered the consequences of that late on in the game.

"You could talk about that or a late goal conceded at West Ham, instead of three points you get one."

The Sunderland boss has also stressed that the lack of home games so far this season should not be overlooked and that it is where they are in May that counts.

"I think that by the time we finish our game on Sunday against Fulham we will have played eleven games, with seven away from and four at home," he continued.

"You can make all sorts of points but where we finish at the end of the season is the only important issue."

O'Neill was positive about the Wearside club's chances in the coming matches ahead of a run of six games which includes four fixtures at the Stadium of Light.

"There was disappointment in the dressing room at the end of the game against Everton who are going brilliantly, certainly a top-four team this season," O'Neill said.

"What we need to do is to take the confidence from that into the set of fixtures coming up between now and Christmas time and really build on that."

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Jol frustrated by defensive frailties

16 November 2012 19:08

Fulham manager Martin Jol admits his side need to shore up defensively if they are to keep up their excellent start to the Premier League season.

Coinciding with the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov, the club have been in sparkling form in front of goal, scoring 24 goals in only 11 matches – including three against Arsenal last time out.

But their fortunes in defence have been far less impressive, particularly away from home where they have conceded 15 goals in six games.

And Jol has acknowledged the need to improve at the back.

"If you see, for example, Reading, Southampton, Arsenal - 60 or 70 percent of these (conceded) goals were set plays, corners and free kicks," Jol said.

"We still scored more goals from set plays than we conceded but it is a little worrying and we spoke about it.

"We have to put that right because it is awful if you score three goals away from home at Reading or Arsenal and you still don't win. It is frustrating."

With the January transfer window fast approaching, Jol has revealed the he is looking for reinforcements, namely Molde centre-back Vegard Forren - who fellow countryman Brede Hangeland recommended.

"Most of the time if I ask for players from Norway they're not that positive," the Dutchman said.

"With this boy they were positive but that is the only thing I did. It was nice that Brede said something nice about his team-mate but that is not normally what you want.

"I don't want to talk about targets, you know? This is more private. You want to keep this information for yourself, but he did well. He was open and honest so now we probably have to switch to another target."

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Premier League preview: Fulham v Sunderland

15 November 2012 13:14

Fulham can maintain the pressure on the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal in Sunday's English Premier League clash with Sunderland.

The London club are unbeaten in their past five matches and full of confidence following a thrilling 3-3 draw against Arsenal last weekend.

Fulham trailed by two goals after 23 minutes at the Emirates before Dimitar Berbatov inspired the visitors with a brace and Mark Schwarzer saved a penalty at the death to secure a point.

Berbatov has been instrumental since his arrival from Manchester United on transfer deadline day, with five goals making him an instant favourite among the Fulham faithful.

Fulham, who have scored more goals than any other team apart from league leaders Manchester United, are undefeated in six league games when Berbatov has started.

"Berba is more than important for us, both on and off the pitch," fellow striker Hugo Rodallega said.

"He is a relaxed guy, very intelligent, but also a shy person. When he does speak, it is common sense. I am learning a lot from him and I think we can be very successful during our time here."

Fulham are ninth on the table with 16 points, behind Arsenal on goal difference and one point adrift of Tottenham in seventh place.

Sunderland, just three points above the relegation zone in 16th place, are under increasing pressure following losses to Everton and Aston Villa.

And the Tyneside club could be without Lee Cattermole, Steven Fletcher and Phil Bardsley for the trip to Craven Cottage with all three nursing injuries.

Cattermole missed the 2-1 defeat at Everton with a knee complaint, while Fletcher picked up a knock and Bardsley was absent with a hamstring injury.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25