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Fulham 1-0 Stoke Prem27 1213 Daily Mail

last updated Tuesday 26th February 2013, 11:20 PM

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Bob Cass at Daily Mail

Fulham (1) 1 Stoke (0) 0

It either speaks volumes for the wealth of talent at Old Trafford or shows that Sir Alex Ferguson is fallible but Dimitar Berbatov continues to cut a classic football figure on the banks of the River Thames.

The Bulgarian striker, 32, sold by Manchester United for £5million last summer, combines the silky elegance of a rumba dancer with the deadly strike of a cobra, qualities which enable him to celebrate his 200th Premier League game in the grand manner.

Berbatov shot over in the ninth minute when he might have done better but he finished the half with a superb right-foot volley from just inside the area to leave Asmir Begovic flailing.

The striker raced over to celebrate his goal with Fulham manager Martin Jol, who said later. 'I told him he'd stopped scoring goals with volleys like he used to when he played under me at Tottenham. This was his way of letting me know how wrong I was.'

Berbatov was given a hero's farewell by the Fulham crowd when substituted near the end.

'When you need to do something special you do it,' he said. 'It was something I practise a lot in training.'

If Berbatov's strike gave Fulham an unexpected interval lead, Mark Schwarzer's brilliance maintained it with two tremendous saves within 11 minutes of the restart.

He denied Peter Crouch with a brave point-blank save but it was his 56th-minute penalty stop that put the skids under Stoke's bid to end a dismal record at Craven Cottage.

Ashkan Dejagah charged down Brek Shea's effort to give away the kick but the Aussie keeper dived to his right to save Jonathan Walter's effort at the foot of a post.

'It is always great when you prevent goals,' he said. 'These were important because we badly needed the three points.'

Tony Pulis was left to bemoan missed chances.

'If you don't take them you pay the penalty at this level,' said the Stoke manager, who had no complaints about Berbatov's first-half challenge which left Steven N'Zonzi with a broken nose.

Jol admitted his relief at his team's fourth victory in the last 19 matches.

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise, Duff (Emanuelson 86), Sidwell, Karagounis (Baird 82), Dejagah, Ruiz, Berbatov (Petric 90+2).
Subs not used: Etheridge, Hughes, Rodallega, Kacaniklic.

Booked: Ruiz

Goal: Berbatov 45+2.

STOKE: Begovic, Shotton, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson, Walters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Cameron (Jerome 51), Etherington (Shea 24), Crouch (Jones 70).
Subs not used: Sorensen, Adam, Whitehead, Kightly.

Booked: Walters, Nzonzi, Shawcross

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

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