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West Brom 1-2 Fulham Premiership Matchday 21 1213 Daily Telegraph

last updated Wednesday 02nd January 2013, 2:06 PM


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John Percy at Daily Telegraph


West Brom (0) 1 Fulham (1) 2


Dimitar Berbatov is the antithesis of a muck-and-bullets trench fighter but he will undoubtedly keep calm and carry Fulham towards safer territory.

Berbatov is the greatest enigma in the Premier League since Eric Cantona and a maverick probably not designed for the unforgiving battlegrounds of a grim relegation scrap.

But here he led by example and even finished the game operating as a makeshift left back to help Martin Jol's side secure only their second victory in 13 games.

Berbatov's flashes of genius lit up the Hawthorns as Steve Clarke's team suffered only their third home defeat of the season.

Fulham's alarming freefall had raised fears of a fight to avoid the drop to the Championship but with the Bulgarian in this mood his manager will sleep more soundly.

The £4 million summer signing was typically absorbing to watch but there was also a rarely seen steely resolve from a player renowned for his languid style of play, as he constantly cajoled his team-mates and chastised them for not passing him the ball.

And while it was Alexander Kacaniklic who provided the most telling contribution with his 58th-minute winner, Berbatov's performance helped to cheer up Jol no end.

He said: "If you lose, people probably criticise him as his body language is not always great but I know him and he is always angry with himself.

He wants to win, to do well.

I'm very happy with him.

"I'm just relieved we have a win.

We probably need five or six wins as soon as possible.

It is not a great position to be in."

Albion, usually so formidable at home, were nervy and were punished six minutes before half-time.

Berbatov sent Ashkan Dejagah clear with a lofted pass and then timed his run perfectly to receive the cross and stroke the ball past Ben Foster.

Clarke's team were level four minutes in to the second half.

Billy Jones's cross was bundled over the line by Romelu Lukaku.

The on-loan forward almost added another shortly afterwardsas his side came to life, but he struck the post.

Fulham could have been blown away but instead they regained the lead on 58 minutes when Kacaniklic picked up a Bryan Ruiz pass and punished Foster's decision to advance out of his area by sliding the ball into an unguarded net.

Fulham clung on and the boos from the home fans which greeted the final whistle seemed harsh.

Clarke said: "I didn't hear the boos, but after the way we played in the second half I would say we deserved a point.

The target now is to have a good run in the FA Cup and get to 40 points as quickly as possible."

West Brom (4-2-3-1): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Tamas, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Brunt (Thorne 84); Fortune (Odemwingie 66), Morrison, Gera (Long 65); Lukaku.
Subs (not used): Myhill (gk), Rosenberg, Jara Reyes, Dawson.

Fulham (4-4-1-1): Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Briggs; Dejagah, Sidwell, Karagouinis (Rodallega 76), Kacaniklic; Ruiz; Berbatov (Senderos 90).
Subs (not used): Somogyi (gk), Baird, Kasami, Richardson, Frei.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)






















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