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Sunderland 0-1 Fulham Prem01 1314 Daily Mail

last updated Tuesday 20th August 2013, 10:51 AM
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Bob Cass at Daily Mail

Sunderland (0) 0 Fulham (0) 1

Well it couldn't have been the ketchup, or the mayonnaise.

And if Paolo di Canio was looking for excuses for his team's disappointing start to the season, he could hardly point to the ice in their cola; tea or coffee before training - or even dressing-room singing and banter.

After all, he has banned them all.

Maybe he should introduce bedtime stories which deal with history's famous revolutions.

Because the so-called revolution which the Italian head coach has intimated will be the watchword of his tenure is in danger of being defused without a shot being fired.

If revolutions are measured by the level of change, there was plenty of evidence of that.

Di Canio gave five of his 10 summer signings debuts while another four figured on the bench.

But if the Sunderland fans among the near 44,000 crowd were expecting fiery clones of their hot-tempered boss, they must have been sadly disappointed.

There were flashes from the much-vaunted Emanuele Giaccherini and Jozy Altidore, fresh from his hat-trick triumph for the United States during the week.

But the best contribution came from Cabral, a free transfer acquisition from Basle. And they could not offer 'getting to know you' as an excuse.

Because among the four new Fulham signings given a game by Martin Jol, Adel Taarabt, on loan from Queen's Park Rangers, had only met his teammates the day before.

It was just unfortunate for Sunderland that their opponents do not know how to start a campaign badly. Fulham have now gone five seasons since they lost their first league match.

'It was very pleasing to start with three points,' said Jol. 'Sunderland are a very energetic side and they were always dangerous but we managed to hold on. I'll be looking for a lot more from my players as the season goes on.'

In truth, apart from a tremendous save from Marten Stekelenburg to palm Ondrej Celustka's 25-yarder for a corner in the 35th minute, Sunderland rarely looked like rubbing out Pajtim Kasami's 52nd-minute winner.

The goal was something of an embarrassment for Valentin Roberge, one of the imports who came from Portuguese outfit Maritimo.

The central defender offered only a puny challenge to Kasami as he rose to bullet Damien Duff's corner into the net.

Fulham's former Roma keeper Stekelenburg provided the one real dampener for Jol, damaging his shoulder in a collision with Altidore late on and having to be replaced by David Stockdale.

'He says it feels really bad and we could lose him for a couple of weeks,' observed Jol.

Di Canio seemed to take a swipe at Fulham's tactics, saying: 'There was only one team that tried to play football and create chances. We were in their half for 80 minutes and had some good chances. Only one team set out to win it.'

Of his new signings, the Sunderland chief said: 'They will understand this is the toughest league in the world, especially for set-pieces.'

Sunderland: Westwood 7; Celustka 6 (Wickham 86), O'Shea (c) 7, Roberge 6, Colback 6; Johnson 6, Larsson 5, Cabral 6, Giaccherini 5; Sessegnon 6 (Ji 72, 5); Altidore 7.
Subs not used: Moberg-Karlsson, Diakite, Ba, Cuellar, Mannone.

Fulham: Stekelenburg 6 (Stockdale 75, 6); Riether 6, Hangeland 7, Hughes 7, Richardson 5 (Briggs 19, 6); Duff 7, Sidwell 7, Boateng 5 (Karagounis 66, 6); Taarabt 5, Berbatov 6, Kasami 8.
Subs not used: Senderos, Ruiz, Rodellega, Bent.

Booked: Boateng, Berbatov, Duff

Goal: Kasami 52

Attendence: 43,905

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

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