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Fulham 3-1 West Ham Prem24 1213 The Sun

last updated Saturday 02nd February 2013, 10:45 AM

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Dan King at SunSport

Fulham (1) 3 West Ham (0) 1

Dimitar Berbatov celebrated his birthday by inspiring his team to a much-needed win.

The stony-faced striker can look like he lacks the determination to blow out 32 candles, let alone protect a mediocre team from a relegation battle.

But his early goal set the hosts on their way to only their third victory in 16 Premier League games.

And his all-round performance suggested there is life in him yet.

Berbatov could even afford to give West Ham a present of their own when he allowed Kevin Nolan to equalise early in the second half.

Because a minute later Hugo Rodallega nodded Fulham back in front as the Hammers uncharacteristically conceded a second goal from a cross.

The visitors, who barely won a decision from referee Chris Foy all night, came close to levelling but Joey O'Brien's last-gasp own goal sealed their fate.

Fulham boss Martin Jol, who hopes to add Milan schemer Urby Emanuelson to his squad today, said: "It was a vital win.

I've heard there was something irregular about our first goal but I remember a couple of moments this season when we had the same decisions go against us.

"As you say in England: you win some, you lose some."

Assistant Neil McDonald stood in afterwards for Sam Allardyce, who was apparently recovering from dental work.

The Hammers felt they had been kicked in the teeth by Foy and his assistants. And McDonald said: "We're disappointed with the first goal.

There were three players, not just one, offside and you expect the officials to see that.

"We should also have had two penalties. It's hard enough in the Premier League. When you don't get those decisions, it's really difficult."

Any one of Rodallega, Bryan Ruiz and Brede Hangeland could have converted Damien Duff's 10th-minute free-kick.

They all failed to connect but were arguably interfering with play before Berbatov stooped to head in at the back post.

A niggly match turned nasty in the 31st minute when Steve Sidwell was booked for lunging in on Mohamed Diame.

Berbatov surged forward just before half-time and hit a shot which tickled Jussi Jaaskelainen's post. But within three minutes of the second half the Hammers were level.

Berbatov was caught napping by Mark Noble's free-kick and Nolan held him off before shooting across Mark Schwarzer.

Yet parity did not last long. Duff's cross was decent but James Tomkins fluffed his leap and left Rodallega to head his first goal since December 10.

West Ham looked more dangerous than in the first half and it took a fingertip save to deny Nolan.

Sub Andy Carroll, on his return from injury, also tested Mark Schwarzer.

But a stoppage-time shot from Mladen Petric, who replaced Berbatov after he pulled up with a hamstring problem, hit a post and went in off O'Brien to ensure that the happy returns were for Fulham's temperamental talisman.


FULHAM: Schwarzer 6, Riether 6, Senderos 6, Hangeland 6, Riise 6, Ruiz 4 (Dejagah 5), Sidwell 6, Karagounis 5 (Baird 5), Duff 7, Rodallega 6, Berbatov 8 (Petric 6).
Subs not used: Etheridge, Frimpong, Hughes, Davies. Booked: Riether, Sidwell.

WEST HAM: Jaaskelainen 6, Demel 5 (Taylor 5), Tomkins 4, Reid 5, O'Brien 5, J Cole 6 (Carroll 5), Noble 5, Diame 6, Nolan 7, Chamakh 4 (C Cole 5), Jarvis 5.
Subs not used: Henderson, Vaz Te, Pogatetz, O'Neil.

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