independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Berbatov gets perfect present

Fulham 3 West Ham 1

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

After a bright start to the season, the Cottagers' form has tailed off dramatically and manager Martin Jol admitted in the build-up this clash was "vital" to his struggling side.

That sense of importance was evident from the outset as Fulham came out swinging, with Berbatov nodding home the opener just 10 minutes in.

Replays showed the Bulgarian was in an offside position when Damien Duff sent in the free-kick, which looked to take the slightest of touches off Byran Ruiz as it made its way to Berbatov.

West Ham have endured similar struggles of late but showed impressive fight by the Thames, levelling things up through captain Kevin Nolan 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.

That lead lasted just a minute, though, as Hugo Rodallega bundled home a Duff cross to put Fulham on course for their second league win of 2013.

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

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