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Fulham 3-0 Stoke Prem25 Telegraph

last updated Monday 13th February 2012, 12:47 PM
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Ben Findon at Daily Telegraph

Fulham (2) 2 Stoke (0) 1

Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak took just 16 minutes to announce his arrival with the goal that set Fulham on course for a well-deserved victory over Stoke.

Fulham's deadline day acquisition from Stuttgart, who trained with his new team-mates for the first time 48 hours before the match following the granting of a work permit, finished crisply from 15 yards Clint Dempsey supplied Fulham's second, 12 minutes later, though it was credited as an own goal for Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.

Although Ryan Shawcross halved the deficit 12 minutes from the end, there was no way back for Stoke, who slipped to their fourth successive league defeat.

Pogrebnyak's big moment came after he had already made a bright, industrious start.

He gathered John Arne Riise's driven ball into the penalty area, took one touch and unleashed an unstoppable drive high into the net.

The Moscow-born 28-year-old, who arrived at Craven Cottage on a six-month deal, made his name with Spartak Moscow and also had a Russian-title winning spell with Zenit St Petersburg.

Bobby Zamora may no longer be part of life on the banks of the Thames, following his switch to Queens Park Rangers, but Pogrebnyak was an instant hit with the fans.

With Danny Murphy and Mousa Dembele controlling midfield, Fulham were in the ascendancy and confirmation of their superiority came in the 28th minute.

Dempsey powered a 35-yard missile that Sorensen managed to tip on to his crossbar, only for the ball to rebound on to his shoulder and drop over the line.

The Stoke goalkeeper enjoyed better reward just before half-time, blocking a close-range effort from Damien Duff, who had been picked out by Murphy's free-kick.

The visitors showed steady improvement after the break, and Matthew Upson should have found the target from Glenn Whelan's free-kick, Shawcross glanced home Jermaine Pennant's 78th-minute corner but Fulham held firrm through the closing stages.

Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak may have brought some of his weather with him but there was no denying the warm feeling spreading around Craven Cottage.

Replacing Bobby Zamora, recently departed to Queens Park Rangers, will be no easy task but this was a highly promising start.

An industrious performance against a typically muscular Stoke, capped by a searing finish that set Fulham on the road to victory.

Pogrebnyak, 28, arrived on a six-month loan from Stuttgart on the final day of the winter transfer window, his debut delayed while a work permit was processed.

His CV looks impressive: Spartak Moscow product, Russian league and Uefa Cup winner with Zenit and 40 appearances for his country.

"He looks very good and has fitted in easily," said Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

"His work rate was excellent and you probably didn't see his ability on the ball but his finish was top class.

I think he's going to get better and better.

" Fulham manager Martin Jol had tracked the man from Moscow during his time in the Bundesliga.

"I knew he was the kind of player I wanted.

I wanted him for Hamburg and he knew that.

That probably gave us a little edge," he said.

"He loved to come to England and we were probably the only club that gave him this opportunity.

" There was less admiration from Stoke manager Tony Pulis.

Seven days on from the controversial dismissal of Robert Huth against Sunderland, Pulis was infuriated that Pogrebnyak escaped any punishment for a late tackle on Wilson Palacios.

"The challenge today is worse than Robert's.

It's not that I think so, it is," he said.

His mood had not been improved by Stoke's fourth successive defeat, though they now embark on a cup diversion, with a visit from Valencia in the Europa League on Thursday followed by a FA Cup trip to Crawley next Sunday.

Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross headed home 12 minutes from the end but the damage had already been done, with Clint Dempsey's thunderous 35-yarder that ricocheted in off goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen putting Fulham beyond reach.

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.

Booked: Hangeland (79,f).

Pogrebnyak 16 (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.)

Stoke Sorensen, Wilkinson (Shotton 68), Shawcross, Upson, Wilson, Walters, Whelan, Palacios, Etherington (Pennant 67), Jones (Fuller 66), Crouch.
Subs Not Used: Begovic, Whitehead, Jerome, Woodgate.

Booked: Wilson, Palacios.

Goals: Shawcross 78.

Att: 23, 555

Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

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