Berbatov stunner gives Fulham victory

Fulham 1 Stoke City 0

A stunning volley from Dimitar Berbatov and a penalty save from Mark Schwarzer earned Fulham a thoroughly deserved victory to ease any lingering relegation fears.

Martin Jol’s side dominated large spells of a low-quality encounter enlivened by a bullet from Berbatov in first-half injury-time which flew past Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic at his near post.

But the Whites were indebted to Schwarzer for his 55th-minute save from Jonathan Walters’ spot-kick after Ashkan Dejagah had been penalised for handball.

The first half was all one-way traffic as Whites encamped in Stoke territory.

Berbatov hooked a shot over from close range, Bryan Ruiz had a goal chalked off after pushing it in with his hand and Giorgos Karagounis saw his free-kick pushed over by Begovic, after Steven N’Zonzi had been lucky to escape with a yellow card for shoving a hand into the head of Ruiz.

Fulham stepped up a gear as the first half wore on and Steve Sidwell drove just past the past after a neat exchange of passes with Ashkan Dejagah.

Just when it looked as though Fulham’s mini goal drought would continue into the break, Berbatov produced his moment of instinctive brilliance on the stroke of half-time.

Dejagah’s cross from the right was headed out by ex-Chelsea defender Robert Huth, only as far as the Bulgarian, who crashed a volley home from 15 yards.

Stoke offered little going forward in the first half but began in the ascendancy after the interval.

Peter Crouch nipped in ahead of the dozing Philippe Senderos but Schwarzer blocked the England striker’s toe-poked effort.

And the Australian was on top form again minutes later when Dejagah was adjudged to have blocked Brek Shea’s cross with a raised hand inside the box.

Walters, who missed a penalty against Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium earlier in the season, scuffed his kick and Schwarzer made a comfortable save low to his right.

John Arne Riise, Karagounis and Mladen Petric all lifted efforts over the bar as Fulham sought to seal the deal, while Stoke were unable to threaten an equaliser.

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise; Duff (Emanuelson 86), Karagounis (Baird 81), Sidwell, Dejagah; Ruiz, Berbatov (Petric 90).
Subs not used: Hughes, Kacaniklic, Rodallega, Etheridge.



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