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Stoke 4-1 Fulham Prem 37 1314 Daily Star

last updated Tuesday 06th May 2014, 11:05 AM
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Ian Baker at Daily Star

Stoke (1) 4-1 (0) Fulham

Mark Hughes left Fulham in 2011 due to what he called their lack of ambition - but maybe he just saw what was to come.

As Stoke boss he has now relegated his old club who produced a truly shambolic display.

For a game that had so much riding on it, the Cottagers simply failed to turn up - despite the best attempts of their 3.000 travelling fans.

But after strikes from Peter Odemwingie, Marko Arnautovic, Oussama Assaidi and Jon Walters ended Fulham's 13-year Premier League stay, Stoke can proudly boast to be a club on the rise.

Sparky has now got them playing the kind of football their fans could only ever dream of in the last ten years and how the Fulham followers must wish he was still with them.

Instead they are left with dictatorial figure Felix Magath who failed to deliver on his promise of keeping the Cottagers up.

And this was simply abysmal from Fulham as Stoke - with little but pride to play for - tore into them right from the start.

"You're not fit to wear the shirt," chanted the away fans towards the end of this meek surrender.

Stoke's attacking trio Arnautovic, Assaidi and Odemwingie were simply unstoppable.

Steven Nzonzi pulled back early for Assaidi to blaze over then Odemwingie fired over after another speedy Stoke break.

Fulham only threatened once in the first half when Lewis Holtby's shot was deflected just wide.

Their defending was pretty awful too with Mahamadou Diarra gifting the ball to Stephen Ireland whose shot was well saved by David Stockdale - the only Fulham man to emerge with any credit. He later kept out another shot from Ireland and then one from Assaidi.

It seemed only a matter of time before Stoke would score and it did not work as Hughes' side gleefully took the led in the 39th minute.

Arnautovic crossed for Ireland who saw an effort blocked on to the bar by John Heitinga.

Odemwingie bundled in the rebound for his fifth goal for the Potters.

Soon after that Arnautovic burst in from the right before his piledriver was superbly held by Stockdale.

Stoke emerged for the second half with the same purpose and, after Nzonzi went close after fine work from Assaidi, Arnautovic, scored the crucial second.

Fulham's poor defending was soon exposed again as Assaidi found Odemwingie who sped down the left wing before crossing beautifully for him to blast home in style.

The Potters continued to attack in numbers with Marc Muniesa pulling back for Assaidi whose effort was again superbly stopped by the wrong-footed Stockdale.

Hughes sent on Charlie Adam who sliced wide following a pass from Odemwingie.

But the game was up for Fulham after 73 minutes as Arnautovic laid a chance on a plate for Assaidi to convert from just four yards out. They did pull one back ten minutes from time , though, through a Kieran Richardson half-volley off Askhan Dejagah's cross but Stoke added a fourth within two minutes.

Two subs combined as Adam's through ball caught out Fulham's sleepwalking defence and Walters calmly beat Stockdale.

Magath said: "You can imagine this is one of the worst days I have ever had.

"I was very confident that we could avoid relegation, until today. In Germany we would say we had a 'blackout'.

"We had no chance from the beginning, we were not in the game.

"The team felt too much pressure, we could not run, pass or play.

"We were never in the game - we had no chance. At half-time I tried for sure.

"I spoke with the players before and there was no sign. They seemed to be confident.

"We were a little better in the second half than in the first. But after the second goal they had no chance.

"Afterwards nobody said a word and there were some tears.

"But I have to take responsibility and I apologise for not managing the situation."

'I will speak to the owner and we can start to come back. I want that chance. For the fans, I say sorry for this bad performance."

Hughes said: "We were very good, I was very pleased with the focus.

"We have matched the biggest points total Stoke have had in the Premier League.

"Once we scored the first goal we made it difficult for them."

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