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Fulham 2-0 Aston Villa Prem 15 1314 Daily Star

last updated Monday 09th December 2013, 2:19 PM
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Adrian Kajumba at Daily Star

Fulham (2) 2 Aston Villa (0) 0

Dimitar Berbatov has got a funny way of trying to get Fulham to sell him.

Since his agent announced he wanted out in midweek, Berbatov has produced his two best performances of the season.

Against Tottenham on Wednesday there was no reward for the former Bulgaria and Fulham striker.

But Berbatov inspired his team to a first win under new boss Rene Meulensteen with another vintage display.

Berbatov had a hand in Steve Sidwell's opener before scoring the second from the penalty spot.

All he has managed to do in the last few days - especially in the first half against Villa when all the damage was done - is remind the decision makers at Craven Cottage that he's irreplaceable.

And if this is Berbatov unhappy, then Fulham will probably put up with him sulking until the end of the season.

A first victory in eight games lifted Fulham up a place to third from bottom, level on points with West Ham.

Credit must go to Meulensteen for reviving Berbatov and Fulham after replacing Martin Jol last week.

Motions The Bulgarian has been at his frustrating, disinterested worst for most of the season and scored just one league goal before the Dutchman's appointment.

At the same time Fulham looked like they were just going through the motions - all the way down to the Championship.

Now Berbatov is back to his best and on the score sheet under his old Manchester United coach.

Meulensteen has pumped new life into Fulham's oldies, making them look like a team capable of staying up.

As good as Fulham were at Craven Cottage, Villa were awful.

The heat was on Fulham as they came into the game on the back of their worst run for more than 11 years - six straight league defeats.

Villa were five games unbeaten and arrived with the third best away record in the league.

Yet you would never have known who was under pressure, especially when watching the strolling Berbatov. He gave Villa a warning he was in the mood with an eighth-minute header, which Brad Guzan flew to his right to tip onto the post.

Berbatov then had a little rest and let his team-mates - marshalled excellently by midfield trio Scott Parker, Giorgos Karagounis and Steve Sidwell, who have a combined age of 99 - toy with Villa.

Ciaran Clark's desperate last-ditch challenge denied Ashkan Dejagah before Nathan Baker cleared off the line twice in quick succession from Alexander Kacaniklic.

While Villa were hanging on, the recalled Christian Benteke briefly sparked into life, going close twice.

The first chance was a header he nodded well wide when he should have scored. He has now gone nine games without netting.

The goal Fulham were threatening finally came in the 21st minute.

Berbatov and Dejagah combined on the edge of the Villa box before the Fulham winger poked the ball hopefully through to Sidwell.

He wanted the ball much more than Leandro Bacuna, who was punished for dallying when Villa old boy Sidwell slid in to stab the opener past Guzan.

Berbatov then burst back into life and Bacuna's afternoon went from bad to worse eight minutes later.

The Bulgarian sent Kacaniklic scampering clear with an outrageous volleyed pass and the Swede was barged over in the box by Bacuna.

Cool customer Berbatov wrong-footed Guzan with a penalty that was as nonchalant as his pass to Kacaniklic moments earlier.

Berbatov was really in the mood, drawing gasps when he started showboating before forcing another save from Guzan with an outside-of-the foot effort.

Fulham's performance earned them the sort of half-time ovation that has not been heard in these parts for some time.

Yet they were far from finished. Berbatov went close twice more and Phillipe Senderos had a thumping header saved by Guzan.

Karagounis and John Arne Riise, twice, also went close to scoring a third for Fulham.

Villa's wretched afternoon was summed up when referee Mike Dean waved away their penalty appeals after Aaron Hughes tripped Gabi Agbonlahor in the box.

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