Mark Irwin at SunSport
Fulham (2) 2 Stoke (0) 1
Pavel Pogrebnyak spoke to Roman Pavlyuchenko and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov before leaving Stuttgart last month.
Yet the Russian striker STILL signed for Fulham!
Both his compatriots are back in their homeland after failing to impress in the Premier League.
Now the big blond striker, 28, is looking to succeed where his comrades failed - and started his new career in spectacular style with a stunning debut goal.
But Fulham boss Martin Jol is not getting too carried away with his new signing.
"I knew his credentials were good but he's not exactly the brother of Pele," was Jol's brutally honest assessment of the 6ft 4in target man.
"He didn't do amazingly well at Stuttgart but I spoke to Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat, who have both coached him, and they agreed he could do well here.
"He's played 45 games for the Russian national team and I tried to sign him before when I was manager of Hamburg, which probably gave us an edge.
"Pavel spoke to Pavlyuchenko, Bilyaletdinov and Andrey Arshavin - luckily they didn't tell him to stay away.
In fact, they were all very positive about English football.
"He was keen to come to the Premier League when Stuttgart said he could leave and we were probably the only club that gave him this opportunity.
"There were a lot of players available to us and hopefully we've made the right decision.
"Bobby Zamora told us more than once he wanted to leave and he's 31, so we made the long-term decision to let him go for the money QPR were offering us.
"When Bobby scored on his first game for QPR, it didn't look so good for us, so it was good that Pavel scored on his debut."
Pogrebnyak, who arrived in England only on Wednesday, is at Fulham until the end of the season - although they do have the first option to sign him in the summer.
Jol added: "It's a good arrangement for him and for us.
Normally players want a contract for three or four years.
Pavel is in the shop window."
Stoke boss Tony Pulis was less impressed with Pogrebnyak.
Pulis reckoned he should have seen red for a first-half tackle on Wilson Palacios and is convinced his team gets a raw deal from refs.
He said: "Robert Huth was sent off for pulling out of a tackle against Sunderland last week, yet their lad caught Wilson knee-high and hasn't even been booked.
"That tackle by Pogrebnyak was worse than Huth's.
That's not just my opinion, it's a fact."
Pogrebnyak's 15th-minute strike was followed by another Clint Dempsey thunderbolt which flew in off keeper Thomas Sorensen's back after hitting the Stoke bar.
And though Ryan Shawcross scored with a late header, it was not enough to save the visitors from a fourth successive defeat.
Keeper Sorensen admitted: "It doesn't matter where we are in the table, we need to get some points.
"There's still a fair distance to the bottom but if we stay on 30 points, we won't stay up.
"I was disappointed to score that own goal because I would expect to get a better hand on the shot.
"It was one of those horrible ones where the ball was dipping and moving and maybe I was a bit unlucky.
"But I got a hand to it and should have done more than push it on to the bar."
SUN STAR MAN - MOUSSA DEMBELE (FULHAM)
Schwarzer, Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, John Arne Riise, Murphy (Etuhu 80), Duff, Dembele, Dempsey, Ruiz (Baird 89), Pogrebnyak (Davies 62).
Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Gecov, Frei, Trotta.
: Hangeland (79,f).
(left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by John Arne Riise),
Sorensen og 28
(Right-footed shot by Clint Dempsey from left channel some 35+ yards out hits the bar. The ball rebounds into the goal off the back of keeper Sorensen.)
Sorensen, Wilkinson (Shotton 68), Shawcross, Upson, Wilson, Walters, Whelan, Palacios, Etherington (Pennant 67), Jones (Fuller 66), Crouch.
Subs Not Used: Begovic, Whitehead, Jerome, Woodgate.
: Wilson, Palacios.
: Shawcross 78.
: 23, 555
: Chris Foy (Merseyside).