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West Brom 1-1 Fulham Prem 27 1314 Daily Mail

last updated Sunday 23rd February 2014, 9:02 PM
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Derek Hunter at Daily Mail


West Brom (0) 1 Fulham (1) 1


- yet it appears their new hardline boss does have a softer side.

Ashkan Dejagah's first-half goal had put rock-bottom Fulham on course for their first Premier League victory since New Year's Day, as Magath's no-nonsense methods seemed set to make an instant impact.

However, his opposite number Pepe Mel's tactical switches were rewarded with four minutes left as one substitute, Victor Anichebe, set up another, Matej Vydra, for the leveller.

It came, though, via a huge helping hand from the otherwise superb Stekelenburg, who allowed the on-loan forward's shot to squirm underneath him and creep over the line.

'He played very well, it was a shot from only a few metres, but such things can happen,' said Magath, who has earned the nickname 'Saddam' in Germany for his punishing training regimes. 'I don't see the keeper in this situation as being at fault. I don't blame him,' he added.

The point will scarcely be welcomed by either side given their perilous positions - West Brom have now won once in 17 league outings - yet it was a significant setback for Magath, who is Fulham's third permanent manager this season, as his team were left rooted to the bottom.

He might have won two titles with Bayern Munich, yet the 60-year-old also earned a reputation as a firefighter in the Bundesliga and his target of six victories to stay up looks an increasingly tall order.

Magath, though, remained satisfied. 'It was a good game - a typical game from two teams playing against relegation. There was a lot of fight, which is what I want my team to do.

'We have to work step by step, but for the first game I'm satisfied. Like all teams fighting relegation they don't have enough confidence to score with every chance. So I thought it was quite good.

'I've seen enough to feel sure Fulham will stay up. I was sure before the game and I'm sure after it.'

Mel is still searching for a first win after six games in charge. This was Albion's fourth home draw in succession - all 1-1 draws in which they have come from behind.

'Before the match, the only thing I would have accepted was three points. Their goalkeeper was my man of the match, but we were too open in the first half,' said Mel.

Magath's side looked well organised in the early exchanges and the unmarked Steve Sidwell spurned a golden chance when he turned a Dejagah cross over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

They survived when Thievy Bifouma went clear only to shoot at Stekelenburg and by the 28th minute the visitors led - the first goal of the Magath reign coming from one of his former players at Wolfsburg.

Kieran Richardson eluded a cluster of bodies inside the box and Dejagah's low strike from the edge of the area squirmed underneath Foster.

West Brom were booed off at the interval. Konstantinos Mitroglou, Fulham's £11 million January recruit, came on midway through the second half, but often cut an isolated figure as Fulham became increasingly entrenched in their own half.

And eventually they buckled when Vydra turned home Anichebe's cross.With no flag from the referee's assistant for a goal, Albion were relieved that the goal-line technology was in place to confirm to Mike Dean that the ball had crossed the line.

'I remain a fan - I always fought for technology in Germany,' said Magath. 'But I didn't lose out to it until now!'





















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