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Fulham 1 Arsenal 0: Cottagers excel themselves

last updated Saturday 23rd August 2008, 8:09 PM
Brede Hangeland
Brede Hangeland gets
first Fulham goal
Fulham held on for a famous victory over Arsenal which was secured by big defender Brede Hangeland's first goal for the club.

Arsenal's Robin van Persie missed a golden chance before Norwegian Hangeland turned in a corner from Jimmy Bullard in the 21st minute.

Emmanuel Adebayor hit the right post with a header for Arsenal soon afterwards, but that was as close as the Gunners came to an equaliser.

Arsenal gave striker van Persie and Kolo Toure their first Barclays Premier League starts of the season in place of Johan Djourou and Nicklas Bendtner at Fulham.

Midfielder Alex Song, back from the Olympic Games, was on the bench alongside teenagers Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere.

Fulham, looking for only their second win over the Gunners in eight previous meetings at Craven Cottage, were still without new £10.5million striker Andrew Johnson because of a thigh - with South Korean Seol Ki-Hyeon kept his place.

Toni Kallio made his full debut in place of Paul Konchesky in an otherwise unchanged side from the opening-day defeat at Hull.

Arsenal tried to impose their possession game in the early stages but were caught out when Zoltan Gera slipped a fine ball through to Bobby Zamora in the inside left channel in the eighth minute.

Match Stats Fulham Arsenal
Goals 1 0
Possession 43% 57%
Goal attempts 6 20
On Target 2 1
Corners 1 5
Off-sides 8 2
Saves 1 1
Fouls 16 6
Yellows 2 0
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet

The former West Ham striker glided in behind the defenders but carelessly chipped a poor shot over the crossbar from a difficult angle when he should have waited for support to arrive.

And Arsenal were grateful to Gael Clichy for getting back to dispossess Zamora a few minutes later when the former West Ham striker came raiding again - this time down the right.

Arsenal's first shot finally came after 12 minutes when van Persie's pass found Adebayor and the big Togo forward neatly controlled but fired a low drive off-target from 20 yards.

Danny Murphy fired a volley over the bar when the Gunners, briefly down to 10 men with Emmanuel Eboue limping off, could only half-clear Gera's cross.

Arsenal should have gone ahead in the 18th minute. Walcott's cross from the right was miskicked by newcomer Nasri - and van Persie slammed an inviting chance wide.

And the visitors paid a heavy penalty when Fulham grabbed the lead from a corner just a minute later.

Giant defender Hangeland responded faster than any Arsenal defender to a Bullard's low driven free-kick, sliding in to toe-poke his first goal for the club.

And Fulham's luck held when Adeybayor's header from a Bacary Sagna cross came back off a post.

Arsenal finally started to put some pressure on the Fulham rearguard, and van Persie went close with a header under challenge from Aaron Hughes.

But their anxiety showed with an appalling lack of sportsmanship when - with Seol needing treatment for a knock on the thigh - Fulham played the ball into touch and did not get it back in the now traditional manner from the throw-in.

The home fans were furious, but their side responded in the best possible way - by taking up the attack again.

Zamora was through again when William Gallas tried to play him offside. But the striker hesitated fatally and was robbed by the recovering Clichy.

At the other end, Walcott fired over the bar from distance - a token effort by Arsenal, who looked out of sorts.

It was typical of Arsenal's first-half performance when after Kallio's tackle was deemed a foul on Walcott, van Persie's free-kick from 20 yards flew high over the bar.

Arsenal had clearly been given some sharp words by manager Arsene Wenger at the interval because they began the second half with more purpose.

Yet there was no breaking down the Fulham defence in the opening 10 minutes with Hangeland and Aaron Hughes standing firm and the home midfield quartet repeatedly cutting down space with quick challenges.

Adebayor shook off his first-half lethargy to drive his side forward and newcomer Nasri was all grit and determination.

But it was Fulham who forged another chance on the break just before the hour mark when Seol outwitted Toure and sent in a fine near-post cross which Zamora drilled just too high.

Adebayor's 20-yard shot at the other end was well off target, but at least Arsenal were now getting in some shots and crosses even though Walcott remained almost anonymous on the right.

Fulham were holding onto their lead fairly comfortably, with goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer yet to be tested.

Arsenal sent on Bendtner as substitute for Walcott with 25 minutes left, clearly trying to add muscle to their passing game.

It almost paid off when Van Persie's well-struck low drive after a slick move went just wide in the 68th minute.

Fulham had to withstand Arsenal's bombardment in the last 20 minutes but the visitors did not threaten as might have been expected and the home side always had Zamora lurking for a chance on the break.

Song replaced Toure, shortly after Kallio had limped off for Fulham to be replaced by Chris Baird.

It was all hands to the pump for Fulham with four added minutes at the end but their fans looked more anxious than the players as Arsenal toiled in vain.

Fulham Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland,Kallio (Baird 74), Davies, Bullard, Murphy (Teymourian 81),Gera, Zamora, Ki-Hyeon (Dempsey 77).
Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Nevland, Stoor, Milsom.

Booked: Murphy (72, f), Teymourian (88, f).

Goals: Hangeland 21 (right-footed into bottom-left of goal from centre of penalty area. Assist (cross) by Jimmy Bullard from left by-line.)

Arsenal Almunia, Sagna, Toure (Song Billong 77), Gallas,Clichy, Walcott (Bendtner 65), Eboue, Denilson, Nasri,Adebayor, Van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Ramsey, Wilshere, Djourou, Gibbs.

Att: 25,276

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

Source Bill Pierce at PA Sport
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