Bent’s winner eases the pressure on Jol

Substitute Darren Bent’s late winner gave Fulham victory – their first league win since the opening day of the season – to ease pressure on manager Martin Jol.

The on-loan Aston Villa striker, introduced in the second half after injury forced off Dimitar Berbatov, rounded Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic before slotting into an empty net on 83 minutes.

Stoke had dominated for large periods and were the most threatening side, with two chances cleared off the line by Sascha Riether in either half, and they had a strong case for a penalty early on.

But Bent’s goal lifted the Whites out of the relegation places with a first win in six.

The England man had been dropped to the bench for this game after Jol’s decision to play both him and Berbatov together against Cardiff City backfired in a disappointing home defeat last weekend.

Jol reverted back to his preferred choice of a lone striker, with Bryan Ruiz replacing Bent, Giorgos Karagounis coming in for the injured Scott Parker and Damien Duff also starting.

Fulham began strongly, but Stoke may have had a spot-kick when Philippe Senderos tripped Stephen Ireland in the box.

And the visitors would have scored had it not been for Riether twice clearing off the line from Robert Huth.

But the Whites had their own strong case for a penalty turned down on the stroke of half-time when Ruiz was sent to the ground by defender Marc Wilson.

Captain Brede Hangeland did not emerge for the second half and was replaced by Kieran Richardson, while midfielder Derek Boateng featured for the first time since the opening day win over Sunderland when he was brought on as a second-half substitute.

But it was the introduction of Bent that galvanised the team.

And when Pajtim Kasami broke down the left-hand side, his shot was deflected by Ryan Shawcross to the feet of Bent, and the forward showed great composure in firing home.

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Stockdale; Riether, Senderos, Hangeland (Richardson 46), Amorebieta; Sidwell, Karagounis (Boateng 59); Ruiz, Kasami, Duff; Berbatov (Bent 66)
Subs not used: Etheridge, Taarabt, Rodallega, Zverotic.



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