Fulham vs. Sunderland  2 - 1


O´Neill rues errors, Jol wants to keep Dempsey

6 May 2012 19:06

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill blamed missed chances for his side's 2-1 defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Goals from Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele condemned O'Neill's men to their 10th defeat on the road this season despite Phil Bardsley's first-half strike.

The former Aston Villa boss was made to rue the opportunities not taken by his side, especially from Fraizer Campbell, who missed a glorious chance in the second half when one-on-one with Mark Schwarzer.

O'Neill told reporters: "I think that we obviously missed some gilt-edged chances and eventually that proved the difference.

"But it's something that we're aware of. Those were relatively simple chances for us and while scoring a goal is still difficult, it might not be that difficult.

"Overall it was an encouraging performance by us. In possession, we passed the ball pretty well today. To concede just after we've scored a great equaliser was particularly galling.

"But overall, we're learning - Ji's (Ji Dong-won's) first start was good, there were some very encouraging signs."

O'Neill admitted his frustration as his side conceded so soon after drawing level, Dembele giving the Cottagers the lead just seconds after Bardsley levelled for Sunderland.

He added: "I think we were maybe distracted (after scoring the equaliser) by the fact that (Stephane) Sessegnon had to change footwear.

"And within 10 seconds of kick-off they've made it 2-1 so it nullifies our goal immediately and sets you on the back foot. We should have done better. We should have dealt with it better."

Fulham manager Martin Jol is hopeful Dempsey will stay at Craven Cottage next season after the midfielder scored another stunning free-kick in the victory.

Dempsey's contract is set to run out in 2013, and clubs will surely be circling for the playmaker this off-season after he notched his 17th Premier League strike of this campaign.

"I want to be positive," Jol told reporters.

"You are talking about the scenario that a couple of players won't be here. If all the players are here (next season) we will only get better.

"(I'm not surprised by Dempsey) in this game, because I know that he will only get better. You talk to him and he wants to get better because of course he's not perfect, no-one is perfect, but he's improving.

"And after the game we had a little banter because we didn't know he could take free-kicks at the start of the season, so he never took them. Then against Bolton, out of nothing he scores, top corner and he did it again today. So it's maybe something for the future, hopefully here.

"He knows what (the fans) think of him. Hopefully it's enough for him to sign his contract."


Premier League: Fulham 2 Sunderland 1

6 May 2012 17:09

Fulham moved above Liverpool on the Premier League table into eighth place with a 2-1 win over Sunderland at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

American international Clint Dempsey gave the home side the lead with a splendid strike from a free-kick for his 18th league goal of the season.

Martin O'Neill's side drew level when Phil Bardsley fired a powerful effort past Mark Schwarzer after a good attacking move by the Black Cats.

But that parity lasted only seconds as Moussa Dembele carried the ball from his own half before shooting at goal, and a deflection took the ball into the net to restore Fulham's lead which was enough to give them all three points.

The game started as a scrappy affair as neither side was able to maintain possession for lengthy periods of the opening 10 minutes and chances were few and far between.

However, Fulham took the lead through Dempsey with a magnificent free-kick as he curled an effort into the top corner from 25 yards, placing the ball out of the reach of Simon Mignolet after Lee Cattermole had fouled Mahamadou Diarra outside the area.

The Black Cats nearly responded through Stephane Sessegnon after a good move down the right as the 27-year-old skilfully beat Brede Hangeland before firing at goal but his shot was excellently saved by Schwarzer.

Martin Jol's side were beginning to take control of the game as the half wore on and could have gone further ahead if not for a superb block by Michael Turner as he denied Pavel Pogrebnyak.

Despite Fulham's dominance in possession, O'Neill's team got an equaliser through Bardsley who blasted a shot into the bottom corner after good build-up play down the left between Jack Colback and Ji Dong-Won, who found the full-back unmarked on the edge of the area.

Sunderland's joy was short-lived, however, as the Cottagers regained the lead just seconds after conceding.

Dembele drove at the Black Cats defence before firing a left-footed shot from 20 yards into the top corner with the ball taking a slight deflection on its way past Mignolet.

Fulham came out confident in the second half and nearly added to their lead five minutes after the restart but Dempsey's goal-bound shot from the edge of the area was cleared off the line by Colback with Mignolet beaten.

The home team upped the ante looking to kill the game as Damien Duff raided down the right and cut inside, beating Bardsley before firing a vicious left-footed shot at goal which was well saved by Mignolet who was quickly on his feet to scoop up the rebound.

Sunderland should have drawn level in the 77th minute when Nicklas Bendtner nodded the ball into Fraizer Campbell's path six yards from goal but the England man could only fire wide of the post much to the frustration of his team-mates.

The Black Cats pressed for an equaliser but were unable to find a way through the Cottagers defence which put them at risk from Fulham counterattacks.

Sunderland came close late on through Campbell again but his effort was well saved by Schwarzer as the home side were able to hold out to secure the win.


Premier League preview: Fulham v Sunderland

3 May 2012 20:14

Fulham and Sunderland will both be looking to consolidate top-half Premier League finishes when they meet at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

Fulham, in ninth place on 49 points, hold a four-point advantage over 11th-placed Sunderland with two games remaining for both sides.

The London-based club have won four and drawn one of their last six outings and are buoyed by a strong record at home this season.

Craven Cottage has proved a tough challenge for visiting teams of late, with Fulham losing just two of their last 14 appearances at home and scoring 29 goals in the process.

American forward Clint Dempsey has firmly established himself as Fulham's key to success, netting 22 goals in all competitions.

Fulham have not lost a game in which Dempsey has scored since August last year.

Fulham manager Martin Jol is expected to return to the bench after missing his side's last two outings with a chest infection.

First-team coach Billy McKinlay was handed the reins as Fulham were trounced 4-0 by Everton at Goodison Park last weekend before bouncing back with a 1-0 defeat of Liverpool away on Tuesday.

The win was Fulham's first ever at Anfield and put them equal on points with the Reds, who remain in eighth with a superior goal difference.

Sunderland have won just one of their last 10 outings in all competitions but mathematically ensured Premier League survival last weekend with a 2-2 draw at home to Bolton.

They enjoyed a winning run following Martin O'Neill's appointment in December, accounting for Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool, and are desperate to avoid undoing the Northern Irishman's hard work.

Nicklas Bendtner struck his eighth goal of the season against Bolton to join Stephane Sessegnon and Sebastian Larsson as Sunderland's leading scorers.

However the Danish forward is unlikely to be at Sunderland beyond this season, with his loan deal from Arsenal set to expire.

Sunderland hosted Fulham in a scoreless draw last time the teams met in November.

The last seven games between the two sides have produced a total of just five goals, with three of them coming in Fulham's 3-0 away win 12 months ago.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25