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Norwich 1-2 Fulham Prem 18 1314 Daily Mail

last updated Friday 27th December 2013, 1:32 PM
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Laurie Whitwell at Daily Mail

Norwich (1) 1 Fulham (1) 2

Perhaps there is something in the air down in the Barclays Premier League basement that brings the best out of Scott Parker. He breathed life into Charlton during their struggles with the top flight and was voted Football Writers' player of the season in 2011 for his efforts at West Ham.

Now Fulham are benefiting from his expertise and on Thursday he led by example in central midfield before producing a crucial late winner.

In the 87th minute he controlled Bradley Johnson's clearing header 25 yards from goal with his first touch and swept the ball home with his second.

It meant three points that momentarily lifted Rene Meulensteen's side out of the bottom three before Crystal Palace's late win nudged them back again.

Gary Hooper had given Norwich the lead with a long-range shot deflected off Aaron Hughes but Fulham levelled before half-time through Pajtim Kasami's free-kick.

Alan Curbishley, Fulham's new technical director, watched from the Carrow Road stands. He has relegation battles on his own c.v. and Meulensteen believes the experience of Parker and Curbishley could be vital.

'I've been delighted with Scott. His character and leadership has typified the performances we've had in the last couple of weeks,' the head coach said.

'It could be a very significant goal but we can only tell when weeks and weeks go by.'

Meulensteen also explained his working relationship with Curbishley, saying: 'Alan is there as an extra pair of eyes to offer advice on whatever he sees in relation to tactics and strategies. It's going to be a good combination.'

Only goal difference keeps Fulham in the bottom three and Meulensteen is keen to maintain focus on his own targets.

'You can keep looking at it and you have to in some ways, but you need to focus on your own tasks, making sure there is good quality in your work and performances are at the right level,' he said.

'If you look too much over your shoulder you forget what you need to do yourself. I'm delighted with the points - very important.'

Norwich manager Chris Hughton conceded the result was a step back after three matches without defeat. He said: 'I don't think anybody can accuse us of not trying to win. We perhaps haven't created enough clear-cut chances but not (because) players aren't giving enough.

'We'd built a little bit of momentum. We're a bit like that. Once we make a couple of steps forward it's a step back today. It's tough at the moment. We're tested in that midfield area with the injuries we have.

'We got the goal and had two other very good chances, but conceded a very poor goal just before half-time that gives them a lift.

'We got a lot of balls into the box, but they're a good side with good players. The game became a little bit open and they capitalised on that.

'It was probably a game in that second half that could have gone either way. We've made some poor decisions.

Fulham started with Adel Taarabt up front in place of the injured Dimitar Berbatov, who could return for tomorrow's match with Hull, but it was Hooper who struck first with that deflected goal.

Fulham responded well and in the 34th minute Johnson fouled Parker just outside the area and when Steve Sidwell dummied a shot the wall split wide, allowing Kasami's curling effort to find the corner.

The second half followed the same see-saw pattern but then Parker came to the fore. There was steel with a crunching tackle on Ricky van Wolfswinkel, then the silk of his winning goal.

Norwich 4-4-2: Ruddy 6; Whittaker 6, Turner 6, Bassong 6, Olsson 6; Snodgrass 6 (Hoolahan 72mins 5), Fer 6, Johnson 6, Redmond 7; Elmander 6 (Van Wolfswinkel 63mins 5), Hooper 7
Subs not used: Bunn, Martin, Becchio, Bennett, Murphy

Goals: Hooper 13

Booked: Turner, Fer, Redmond

Fulham 4-2-3-1: Stockdale 6; Riether 5, Hughes 6, Amorebieta 6, Richardson 6; Sidwell 6, Parker 8; Duff 6 (Rodallega 58mins 6), Kasami 8, Kacaniklic 7 (Riise 90mins); Taarabt 6 (Dejagah 72mins 5)
Subs not used: Bettinelli, Riise, Ruiz, Boateng, Bent

Goals: Kasami 33, Parker 87

Referee: Jon Moss (W Yorkshire) 7

Attendance: 26,811

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