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Fulham 1-3 Sunderland 04 rply fac 1415 Daily Telegraph

last updated Wednesday 04th February 2015, 6:46 PM
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Jeremy Wilson at Daily Telegraph

Fulham (1) 1-3 (0) Sunderland

Kit Symons had reminded his Fulham players before this match that it was 40 years since the club's only previous appearance in an FA Cup final and how the team of 1975 remains revered in West London. Footage of that Wembley appearance is still a collectors' item and, after this tie turned on the most bizarre of goalkeeping bloopers, it is a safe bet that the contribution of Marcus Bettinelli will soon make its way onto a rather different sort of DVD.

Another upset in this most unpredictable of FA Cup seasons had beckoned with Fulham leading after 61 minutes then Bettinelli somehow spilled an innocuous cross from Patrick van Aanholt back over his goalline.

Gus Poyet admitted that it was the stroke of good fortune that his Sunderland team had needed and they were ultimately deserved 3-1 victors. A fifth round tie at giantkilling Bradford City now awaits and Poyet admitted that he is already planning for a Valley Parade pitch that is in a state of disrepair.

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson said at the weekend that it was the "worst" playing surface he has ever seen and Poyet joked that he would be asking the Sunderland groundsman to "smash up" a training ground pitch in preparation.

"We can ask to play at the Stadium of Light but I don't think they will accept this," said Poyet. "It's not going to be a passing game, we have to adapt, maybe be more direct and be clever but I'm sure we can do it."

Poyet's team had also needed to adapt last night after their preparations were disrupted by the loss of Connor Wickham just minutes before kick-off with a calf injury. It meant Steven Fletcher coming into the team to start as the main striker between Jermain Defoe and Ricardo Alvarez. Sunderland assumed immediate control but Bettinelli was alert to gather a low 20-yard shot by Alvarez.

Another chance then fell to Fletcher but his low left-footed effort back across the Fulham goal was also brilliantly turned wide by Bettinelli. Fulham's only real threat was from set-pieces or sudden breaks on the counter-attack and, after a Ross McCormack corner, Cauley Woodrow had a shot cleared off the line that Hugo Rodallega smashed back into the goal off the bottom of the crossbar.

For all their possession, Sunderland were struggling to create and Poyet must have been contemplating a change when their equaliser arrived in the softest imaginable circumstances. Van Aanholt's attempted cross had been deflected high into the air but appeared simply to be sailing harmlessly into the hands of Bettinelli. Fulham's goalkeeper had delivered a flawless performance until this point.

Perhaps the ball was spinning due to the deflection but more likely he simply lost his concentration and the most routine of catches was spilled back over the goalline. Fulham's players made an immediate point of encouraging their goalkeeper and when he then subsequently saved from Alvarez there were cheers all around the ground.

"It was a mistake but he has been excellent for us, he is a strong character and we are not going to put any blame at him," said Symons. Yet as Symons also acknowledged, goals are "generally defining moments in games" and it was the catalyst for the momentum to swing for Sunderland. Alvarez then collected the ball on the edge of Fulham's penalty area and skipped inside several challenges before smashing his finish past Bettinelli.

It was the Argentina international's first goal since joining Sunderland on loan from Inter Milan and, according to Poyet, simply a glimpse of his training ground form.

Alvarez was subsequently fouled by Seko Fofana, prompting an ugly flashpoint that culminated in Emanuele Giaccherini appearing to push the Fulham midfielder in the face. Most of the two teams then joined the fracas.

"There were certainly hands raised and few clashes, it was a bit messy," said Symons. Poyet said that he was happy that both players were only punished with a booking. "I was ready to run in there because I didn't want any trouble - I'm pleased there was nothing serious," he said. In added time, Danny Graham was then brought down by Nikolay Bodurov, with Gomez sending Bettinelli the wrong way from the penalty spot.

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