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Liverpool 4 Fulham 0 – match report

Liverpool 4 Fulham 0: Jol's men crash and burn as Downing turns on the style

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UPDATED:

20:59 GMT, 22 December 2012

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing had a rare day to remember at Anfield as his first Barclays Premier League goal for the club wrapped up a comfortable victory.

Only last week the England international had admitted he may leave next month after manager Brendan Rodgers said he could go.

If that was the incentive to put himself in the shop window it worked as he registered his first league assist in setting up Steven Gerrard – after Martin Skrtel's opener – and capped his performance with a goal of his own before Luis Suarez added an injury-time fourth.

Reds in raptures Liverpool will be smiling over Christmas after a comprehensive victory

Reds in raptures Liverpool will be smiling over Christmas after a comprehensive victory

Good start: Martin Skrtel fired in after some poor defending to get Liverpool on their way

Good start: Martin Skrtel fired in after some poor defending to get Liverpool on their way

Match facts

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Fernandez Saez, Suarez, Downing.

Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling, Wisdom.

Booked: Glen Johnson.

Goals: Skrtel 8, Gerrard 36, Downing 51, Suarez 90.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson, Dejagah, Berbatov.

Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega, Frei, Tavares.

Booked: Karagounis, Dejagah.

Att: 44,570.

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Latest Premier League results, fixtures and table

The 20million signing has been held
up as an example of Liverpool's wastefulness in the transfer market over
the last few years.

Previous manager Kenny Dalglish
certainly did not get his money's worth out of the winger and Rodgers
has so far hardly attempted to as this was only Downing's sixth Premier
League start of his reign.

He has mostly been confined to the
Europa League and has even been played at left-back occasionally as
Rodgers tried to find some use for him.

But in a more familiar advanced
right-wing role he was able to showcase some of his talent with his
first assist and goal in 17 months and 45 league matches at the club.

In fairness Fulham, who have won just
one of their last nine league matches and only one of their last 10 away
from home, were very accommodating and festively came bearing gifts
aplenty.

Martin Jol's side left gaping holes
all over the pitch and, unlike Aston Villa last week who were rewarded
for all their harrying and hustling with a 3-1 win, Liverpool had plenty
of time to take advantage.

As a result they moved up to eighth in the table, their highest position of the season, and five points adrift of the top four.

Unlike the previous week when
Liverpool dominated the opening half-hour but failed to score and paid
the price they got the break they needed early on.

Lashed home: Martin Skrtel's strike flew past Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal

Lashed home: Martin Skrtel's strike flew past Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal

Doubling up: Steven Gerrard tucked home the second goal with a cool finish

Doubling up: Steven Gerrard tucked home the second goal with a cool finish

Gerrard's eighth-minute corner picked
out Skrtel, who had barely moved, and with former Reds full-back John
Arne Riise slow to close down the Slovakia international he brought the
ball down and smashed a volley past Schwarzer.

The centre-back was then required in
the penalty area he is more comfortable in when he slid to block former
Liverpool reserve Alex Kacaniklic's shot.

Daniel Agger's miss from just three
yards – blazing into the top tier of the Anfield Road stand from Luis
Suarez's cross – may have resurrected fears about not being clinical
enough in front of goal.

Leading the way: The Liverpool skipper celebrates his goal with Luis Suarez (and below)

Leading the way: The Liverpool skipper celebrates his goal with Luis Suarez (and below)

Gerrard celebrates with Suarez

Gerrard celebrates with Suarez

Goalkeeper Jose Reina almost making a
mess of Kieran Richardson's swerving shot, diving one way and having to
save with his legs, served as another warning.

But those insecurities were put to bed in the 36th minute with Downing's first significant intervention.

The England international's
brilliantly-disguised reverse pass from the edge of the penalty area
deceived everyone except Gerrard.

Liverpool's captain seized on the
flatfootedness of Fulham's defenders to clip a shot across Schwarzer and
just inside the far post.

Impressive: Brendan Rodgers will be delighted with his side's performance

Impressive: Brendan Rodgers will be delighted with his side's performance

In on the act: Stuart Downing fired home the third

In on the act: Stuart Downing fired home the third

Suso scuffed a shot wide and Suarez
fired straight at the goalkeeper before the interval but within six
minutes of the second half the result was put beyond any doubt.

Gerrard, who had one of his better
days spraying passes all over the field, picked out Downing on the right
wing and he cut inside before blasting home a shot which appeared to
release months of pent-up frustration.

Taking the plaudits: Downing played extremely well as Liverpool romped to victory

Taking the plaudits: Downing played extremely well as Liverpool romped to victory

Down he goes: Suarez falls to the ground

Down he goes: Suarez falls to the ground

The 28-year-old played like a man with
a point to prove at times and saw another blistering drive sail just
over the angle of crossbar and post.

Schwarzer did well to block Gerrard's
close-range shot a Liverpool continued to press, Reina did less well
with Berbatov's long-range effort which squirmed from his grasp and
required Skrtel to clear.

But that was a rare moment of concern
on what was a trouble-free evening as Liverpool recorded only their
fourth home league win of the season when Suarez side-footed home in
added time for his 11th league goal of the season – equalling his tally
from the whole of last season.

Hard times: Dimitar Berbatov (right) was ineffectual as the Cottagers struggled

Hard times: Dimitar Berbatov (right) was ineffectual as the Cottagers struggled

Liverpool v Fulham live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Liverpool v Fulham – as it happens from Anfield

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 22 December 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to conclude Saturday's action. Just two points separate the mid-table sides as Martin Jol's outfit will aim for a repeat of their 1-0 win at the Reds in May. Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Liverpool 1-0 Fulham (5.30pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel,
Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez,
Downing.
Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling,
Wisdom.

Goal: Skrtel 8.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether,
Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson,
Dejagah, Berbatov.
Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega,
Frei, Tavares.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Click here for the live Premier League table

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21min: Finally some sting from the visitors. Moments after Skrtel has another header saved at the back post, Fulham counter.

Ashkan Dejagah breaks into the box but after feeding Alex Kacaniklic, the midfielder sees his eventual shot blocked.

19min: So sluggish are Fulham that Martin Jol is on the edge of his technical area demanding his side close the ball down more. Liverpool remain as comfortable as you can be.

16min: Fulham can barely string two passes together and their problems could get worse as Sascha Riether has been limping around the pitch in the last few minutes.

13min: Excellent strike from Stewart Downing, whose 20-yard rocket is tipped behind at the near post by Mark Schwarzer.

So fine was the touch that the officials missed it and a goal kick is given.

11min: And there has been no response from Fulham who have given the Liverpool defence very little to worry about. This could be a long afternoon for the Cottagers.

8min: GOAL! LIVERPOOL 1-0 Fulham

Fulham survived the first corner but their atrocious marking is soon shown up again.

A Steven Gerrard corner finds Martin Skrtel free inside the box, who lashes home a strike to make up for his own goal in this fixture last May.

6min: Liverpool win a corner following a jinking run from Jose Enrique, but Jonjo Shelvey's cross is headed over by Daniel Agger.

3min: A quiet start with neither side looking particularly threatening on the ball so far. A decent sized crowd at Anfield also seems very quiet.

Kick-off: Away we go.

17.27: The teams are out at Anfield.

17.24: But Liverpool can move into the top half of the table and into eighth with a win today.

Fulham have 11th place to aim for with three points that would take them above the Reds.

17.21: As touched upon, both sides spectacularly crashed last weekend. Liverpool suffered a shock 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa, while Fulham suffered the ignominy of being the first team to lose against QPR after a 2-0 defeat at Loftus Road.

Back in the side: Suso is recalled for Liverpool

Back in the side: Suso is recalled for Liverpool

17.18: Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers spoke to ESPN before the game:

'We have been making steady progress on and off the field. Last weekend was a big disappointment but we have worked well and will look to take three points in a difficult game.

'Joe Allen has played double the amount at this stage than last season but it's important I use him wisely, like wise with young Raheem. I have terrific players chomping at the bit and here is the opportunity for them to do well.'

17.13: Martin Jol certainly believes Fulham can win today but the Cottagers boss conceded his side may be a little short in midfield, speaking before kick-off.

The Dutchman pointed out that Dimitar Berbatov will be the key player for the west London side going forward.

17.10: Full line-ups from Anfield:

Liverpool v Fulham
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez, Downing. Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling, Wisdom.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson, Dejagah, Berbatov. Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega, Frei, Tavares.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

17.05: Teenage winger Raheem Sterling is on the bench the day after signing a new long-term contract as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers makes two changes for the visit of Fulham.

Sterling and Joe Allen are both rested, as Rodgers had suggested this week, with Jose Enrique fit again after a hamstring injury and Suso making his first league appearance since being hauled off after 36 minutes against Wigan on November 17.

Fulham make three changes following last weekend's defeat at QPR with former Liverpool reserve Alex Kacaniklic recalled along with Giorgos Karagounis and Ashkan Dejagah.

17.00: I know it looks like a run-of-the-mill mid-table clash to conclude the last Saturday before Christmas but I can assure you it is much more than that.

In Liverpool v Fulham we have two sides that suffered crushing defeats for different reasons last weekend and both will be desperate for a morale boosting win going into the hectic Christmas schedule.

Conclusion: Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to bring an end to Saturday's action

Conclusion: Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to bring an end to Saturday's action

Roberto Martinez believes he can keep Franco Di Santo and James McCarthy at Wigan

Martinez confident he can keep hold of hot property like Di Santo in transfer window

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 14 December 2012

Wigan insist they will not be forced into selling key players like Franco Di Santo and James McCarthy in the January transfer window.

Di Santo, called up by Argentina last month, is out of contract at the end of the season but manager Roberto Martinez would rather let the striker leave for nothing in the summer than damage the club's bid for Premier League survival.

'It's not going to be a financial decision,' said Martinez, who adopted a similar policy with Mohamed Diame and Hugo Rodallega a year ago.

Lockdown: Roberto Martinez believes he can keep the likes of Franco Di Santo (right) at the club

Lockdown: Roberto Martinez believes he can keep the likes of Franco Di Santo (right) at the club

'I can guarantee that we're not going to
try and cash in early. We showed last season that if we feel a player
can give us something we'll keep him, even if he can walk on a free.

'To replace a player who can score 10 or 15 goals in the Premier League you've got to talk about 10million, so if you haven't got that sort of figure it would be foolish for us just to try and get a bit of money.'

Martinez accepts that McCarthy is destined for bigger things in the future but insists that Wigan will take the same stance as they did with Antonio Valencia, Victor Moses and Charles N'Zogbia by keeping the 22-year-old midfielder until they feel it is the right time for him to move on.

He added: 'James is a player who represents what we are as a football club. I've always said that he has the potential to play anywhere in the world, but has he fulfilled his potential with Wigan Athletic Not yet.

'I think there are many things he needs to experiment and improve. Once he does that maybe he will confirm what we expected three or four years ago; that James McCarthy can be one of the best midfielders in the Premier League or European football, but there is a long way to go.'

Wigan travel to Norwich on Satuday after dropping into the bottom three in midweek, but Martinez is not particularly concerned by a situation with which he has become all too familiar during his four seasons in charge.

'We would prefer to be in the top eight, there's no two ways about it, but I think we're close to being a really good team.' he said. 'I don't think we've performed as a bottom three club.'

Confident: Martinez believes Wigan's place in the table does not show their true ability

Confident: Martinez believes Wigan's place in the table does not show their true ability

Alan Pardew criticises Newcastle defence for Fulham defeat

We only have ourselves to blame! Pardew criticises Newcastle defence for Fulham defeat

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UPDATED:

00:19 GMT, 11 December 2012

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said his side only had themselves to blame for defeat against Fulham on Monday night.

His side lost 2-1 at Craven Cottage and Hugo Rodallega scored the winner with a free header from a free-kick.

Ex-Toon winger Damien Duff whipped the ball in from the right and the Colombian rose to nod the ball past Tim Krul without having to deal with any defenders, even though Fabricio Coloccini was close by.

Oops: Hugo Rodallega (left) scored the winner with a free header after being left unmarked

Oops: Hugo Rodallega (left) scored the winner with a free header after being left unmarked

Pardew said: 'It's a really soft second goal – a soft free-kick, soft defending on the free-kick and you can't do that at this level because we had the game by the scruff of the neck at this point.

'We played some of our best attacking football of the season, but we've still come away with nothing. Performances don't get you points.

'In the second half we were terrific other than those two or three moments. We've got no-one to blame but ourselves.'

Newcastle have not won away from home this season and are on their worst run for 27 years on their travels.

'I think we've conceded poor goals at crucial times and away from home it's costly,” the manager said.

Newcastle's next game is at home to champions Manchester City had Pardew insisted his side would go into that clash with confidence.

'I think at home we are a threat to anybody,' he said.

Steve Sidwell opened the scoring in a first half which Fulham deserved to lead in, but Hatem Ben Arfa struck from distance to level things up.

The game became an electric end-to-end clash and both sides had chances to win – but Pardew felt his side should have been tighter at the back.

'We just didn't defend it well it I'm honest, we are going to have to be better – we can't concede soft goals at this level,' he said.

'To win that game we needed to score three at Fulham and it is really difficult to do that.

Come on! Alan Pardew demanded improvement from his defence

Come on! Alan Pardew demanded improvement from his defence

'Of course it is very, very disappointing because I believe we have an honest set of players and we work on situations and really for us it is a poor goal, I can't so no more than that really.'

Newcastle have now lost five out of their last six league games and Pardew admitted times were tough for the club.

'I'm worried in so much as we are not picking up enough points, that is pretty evident,' he said.

'Although the performances against Stoke, Wigan and today have improved, it is a worry we don't have enough points on the board.'

Strong: Pardew liked with his side's attacking intent, which was aided by the return of Hatem Ben Arfa (right)

Strong: Pardew liked with his side's attacking intent, which was aided by the return of Hatem Ben Arfa (right)

Fulham will spend in January transfer window, says Martin Jol

Jol eyes January sales as Fulham boss admits he must improve his squad

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UPDATED:

14:58 GMT, 8 December 2012

Fulham manager Martin Jol will look to strengthen his squad in January despite the difficulties posed by the upcoming transfer window.

The Cottagers enjoyed a surprisingly good start to the season after losing a number of key players, including Mousa Dembele, Clint Dempsey and Danny Murphy.

That initial flourish has suddenly worn off, though, and Fulham have not won a match since mid-October, thanks in no small part to the impact injuries and suspensions have had on the squad.

January sales: Manager Martin Jol wants to add new signings to play alongside the likes of Dimitar Berbatov at Craven Cottage

January sales: Manager Martin Jol wants to add new signings to play alongside the likes of Dimitar Berbatov at Craven Cottage

Jol brought in free agents Giorgos Karagounis and Mickael Tavares after the summer window closed in a bid to beef up his side and there look set to be more new faces arriving in west London.

'If you would have told me in May that in December Bryan Ruiz won't be there through injury, Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey had gone, I would have thought it would be almost impossible,' Jol said .

'Luckily enough we brought in some quality players but they play up front most of the time, like Dimitar Berbatov, Mladen Petric, Ashkan Dejagah and Hugo Rodallega.

'Of course we will always look to strengthen, but the January transfer period is not an ideal one.

'The good players will stay at their clubs or you can't afford them because clubs are asking too much money, but we will come up with something.

'We always look to strengthen the squad because we lost players.'

Jol did prove successful in last January's transfer window, utilising his knowledge of the Bundesliga to good effect by bringing in Pavel Pogrebnyak.

The Russia international was out of favour at Stuttgart but filled the void left by Bobby Zamora's move to QPR, helping Fulham to a ninth-place finish.

Two weeks after the window closed, Jol also brought in former Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra.

Unlike Pogrebnyak, who moved on to Reading, the Malian is still at Craven Cottage and Jol is having to plan for his absence in the new year.

Plenty to ponder: Fulham boss Jol

Plenty to ponder: Fulham boss Jol

Diarra's form at Fulham has seen him return to the national team set-up, meaning he may well soon be heading to the African nations Cup.

'We'll look to strengthen the squad because if Diarra goes I can do nothing about it,' Jol said. 'As it is now he will go to the African Nations Cup.

'He was so good for me last year because a lot of older players left the club. He changed the dressing room.

'I can remember him when he was 18 he was a revelation. He started in Crete and then came to Holland with Vitesse.

'There won't be a lot of players in Europe who will stay at Real Madrid for five years so that is how good he is.

'It was a gamble because he was 30 so it's important to keep him fit.'

Joe Bennett cuts leg similar to Wayne Rooney injury – picture

That's a slice of bad luck: Bennett injury reminiscent of Rooney's horror cut

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UPDATED:

20:03 GMT, 7 October 2012

Aston Villa's Joe Bennett was taken to hospital for treatment on a nasty gash on his leg – much like the injury which recently ruled Wayne Rooney out for a month.

The defender was left reeling in agony after colliding with an advertising hoarding following a tussle with Gareth Bale during the match at White Hart Lane.

Game over: Bennett was taken off on a stretcher after gashing his leg

Game over: Bennett was taken off on a stretcher after gashing his leg

Enlarge

Ouch: Bennett suffered this injury after colliding with the advertising hoardings

Ouch: Bennett suffered this injury after colliding with the advertising hoardings

Villa boss Paul Lambert confirmed his player had been taken to a local hospital to have the wound treated.

He said: 'I think he has gone to hospital to get stitched up. It was quite a nasty cut.'

The deep wound on the shin of his left leg was reminiscent of the horror-injury sustained by Rooney after Hugo Rodallega's studs sliced into his thigh in August.

The Manchester United striker was sidelined for four weeks after undergoing surgery to to stitch the cut back together and revealed the studs of Rodallega's boots missed slicing a major artery by just milimetres.

The news comes following another defeat
for Villa and manager Paul Lambert felt Christian Benteke's miss proved
crucial in the defeat, which saw the visitors drop to 16th in the table.

The striker, signed from Genk this
summer, missed a free header from Gabriel Agbonlahor's cross early in
the second half after Villa intercepted Lloris' mis-directed throw.

Cut above: Rooney suffered a similar injury earlier this season

Cut above: Rooney suffered a similar injury earlier this season

Cut above: Rooney suffered a similar injury earlier this season

'That was a big moment,' Lambert said.

'When you have chances like that at a place like this you have to put them away.'

Lambert's decision to field Benteke ahead of Darren Bent was a surprise one given that the England striker had come off the bench to score a crucial equaliser against West Brom last week.

The Scot defended the decision tonight, saying: 'Christian gives you a different option.

'Darren's threat is going in behind. That was the only reason why we did it.

'Tottenham's full-backs are going to bomb on at every opportunity so that's why I went with that decision.

Darren has been fine about it.'

Heart of the action: Bennett's team lost 2-0 in the clash at White Hart Lane

Heart of the action: Bennett's team lost 2-0 in the clash at White Hart Lane

Southampton 2 Fulham 2: Jose Fonte rescues point for Saints

Southampton 2 Fulham 2: Fonte rescues dramatic point in injury time as Saints move out of bottom three

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UPDATED:

14:55 GMT, 7 October 2012

Jose Fonte's last-gasp header secured Southampton a point and saved defensive partner Jos Hooiveld's blushes against Fulham.

The Portuguese centre-back nodded home a 90th-minute leveller in a game in which he had broken the deadlock after just four minutes.

Hooiveld scored an own goal in Southampton's 6-1 humbling at Arsenal and did so again on the south coast when he directed home a speculative John Arne Riise drive in the second half.

Hooiveld, who came on eight minutes into the clash after Frazer Richardson suffered a thigh injury, then saw Kieran Richardson's close-range strike brush off him on its way in two minutes from time, although the goal was credited to the Fulham man.

However, Fonte saved the Dutchman and his side late on to earn Southampton a fourth point of the campaign.

Heading home: Jose Fonte scores his second goal for Southampton

Heading home: Jose Fonte scores his second goal for Southampton

MATCH FACTS

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Richardson (Hooiveld 8), Yoshida, Fonte, Fox, Puncheon (Chaplow 61), Schneiderlin, Steven Davis, Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert (Guly 67).
Subs not used: K Davis, Reeves, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka.

Goals: Fonte 4, 90.

Bookings: Yoshida, Fonte, Hooiveld, Schneiderlin.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Kacaniklic (Richardson 66), Ruiz, Baird, Sidwell (Karagounis 72), Duff, Rodallega.
Subs not used: Stockdale, Kelly, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs.

Goals: Hooiveld og 70, Richardson 88.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

The hosts began brightly and the
returning Morgan Schneiderlin fired a wayward warning shot, before
Rickie Lambert headed into the side-netting after connecting with a
Danny Fox corner from the right.

Southampton had their second corner by the fourth minute and made their early dominance count.
Adam Lallana floated the set-piece in from the left and Fonte's glanced
header at the near post looped over goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and into
the far corner.

Richardson was forced off in the
eighth minute for the hosts and his departure forced a defensive
reshuffle, with replacement Hooiveld forcing Maya Yoshida out wide.

Fulham began to make headway, with Lambert blocking Aaron Hughes from a corner before the Northern Irishman headed over.

Saints, though, were still looking
dangerous and came agonisingly close to doubling their advantage as Jay
Rodriguez beat the offside trap and pulled back for Lambert, whose
right-footed effort just went wide.

All smiles: Kieran Richardson celebrates after scoring for Fulham

All smiles: Kieran Richardson celebrates after scoring for Fulham

Delight: John Arne Riise celebrates after his shot is turned into his own net by Jos Hooiveld

Delight: John Arne Riise celebrates after his shot is turned into his own net by Jos Hooiveld

The home side continued to press and Jason Puncheon twice came close from 22nd-minute corners.
Puncheon was denied on the goal-line by Sascha Riether and then, from
the following corner, the wide man was adjudged to have fouled Schwarzer
prior to prodding home.

Lambert forced Schwarzer into action
at his near post after collecting a fine pass from Puncheon, but Fulham
stepped up the pressure as half-time approached and home goalkeeper
Paulo Gazzaniga was required for the first time in stoppage time when
Hughes headed goalwards. The Cottagers again came close as Hooiveld
failed to deal with a hopeful long ball and Hugo Rodallega poked wide
under pressure from Gazzaniga.

Heading in: Aaron Hughes can't prevent a Jose Fonte's effort from creeping into the net

Heading in: Aaron Hughes can't prevent a Jose Fonte's effort from creeping into the net

That momentum continued into the
second half but it was still Southampton enjoying the best
opportunities, with Lambert volleying over a driven Schneiderlin cross
from the right.

Schwarzer spilt a hopeful 25-yard
effort from Rodriguez after a great surge forward but Fulham were
looking a more dangerous opponent and twice came close in the 60th
minute.

Gazzaniga did terrifically to push a
close-range Rodallega header away moments after Steve Sidwell bundled
the ball onto the post.

Celebrations: Jose Fonte with Southampton fans on Sunday

Celebrations: Jose Fonte with Southampton fans on Sunday

Fulham could have also been awarded a
penalty after Yoshida appeared to handle in the midst of the action.
Both sides made changes in a bid to change the match but it was an
earlier substitute whose impact was felt on the south coast.

Riise drilled a low shot from the
left and centre-back Hooiveld could only direct it into his own goal,
putting Fulham level in the 69th minute.

The goal had been coming and
the Cottagers threatened to go ahead, with substitute Kieran Richardson
putting a Riether cross over.

Going close: Rickie Lambert sees his shot saved by Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer

Going close: Rickie Lambert sees his shot saved by Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer

Rodriguez nodded wide for the hosts
in stoppage time and Saints paid when Richardson fired home off
Hooiveld's leg two minutes from time.

The substitute looked to have
earned Fulham three points but he gave away a late free-kick from which
Fonte headed home to earn Saints a point.

My ball: Danny Fox clashes with Fulham's Damian Duff

My ball: Danny Fox clashes with Fulham's Damian Duff

Fulham 1 Manchester City 2 match report

Fulham 1 Man City 2: Dzeko's late strike completes comeback for champions

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UPDATED:

16:20 GMT, 29 September 2012

Edin Dzeko came off the bench to secure Manchester City a last-gasp victory at Fulham and save his manager Roberto Mancini's blushes a day after he proclaimed City would retain the Premier League crown.

The Italian on Friday revealed his side would overcome an indifferent start and secure the title they won in such incredible circumstances back in May.

Such fighting talk came after a poor run of form that looked as if it would be extended on Saturday in west London as Fulham maintained parity heading into the closing stages.

Match winner: Edin Dzeko came off the bench to seal victory for City

Match winner: Edin Dzeko came off the bench to seal victory for City

Get in: Manchester City managed to steal a late win at Craven Cottage

Get in: Manchester City managed to steal a late win at Craven Cottage

MATCH FACTS

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riise, Hangeland, Baird (Karagounis 81min), Hughes, Riether, Sidwell, Duff, Petric (Kacaniklic 66min), Ruiz, Rodallega

Subs not used: Stockdale, Kelly, Briggs, Smith, Kasami

Goals: Petric 10

Man City: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Clichy, Nastasic, Garcia (Dzeko 86min), Barry (Nasri 76min), Silva, Y Toure, Aguero, Tevez (Balotelli 66min)

Goals: Aguero 43, Dzeko 87

Subs not used: Pantilimon, Lescott, Kolarov, Milner

Referee: Mark Halsey

Premier League results, fixtures and table

Mancini's side fell behind to a Mladen
Petric penalty after 10 minutes but levelled two minutes before break
through Sergio Aguero.

The Argentina international tucked home after a superb save by Mark Schwarzer, who would be beaten again at the death by Dzeko.

The Bosnia international had been on
the pitch for less than two minutes when he capitalised on a poor
clearing header by John Arne Riise and lashed home to secure victory.

The hosts were unable to call upon
talisman Dimitar Berbatov for Saturday's game after he pulled up with an
injury in training this week.

Petric played in his place and was one
of two changes made by manager Martin Jol, while there were only three
survivors from the City team that fell to a 4-2 extra-time defeat at
home to Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup.

City made the brighter start to
proceedings by the Thames, retaining possession with ease as they waited
for Fulham's defence to open up.

The hosts extinguished that early threat, though, and were handed a chance to break the deadlock by Mark Halsey.

Come here you: Dzeko ran to team-mate Joleon Lescott after bagging the winner

Come here you: Edin Dzeko ran to team-mate Joleon Lescott after bagging the winner

Come here you: Dzeko ran to team-mate Joleon Lescott after bagging the winner

Get in: Sergio Aguero equalised for City just before the break

Get in: Sergio Aguero equalised for City just before the break

Here we go: Fulham celebrated their early lead against the champions

Here we go: Fulham celebrated their early lead against the champions

Pablo Zabaleta tripped Riise after the
full-back cut in from the left, which the referee adjudged to be just
inside the 18-yard box.

The call looked harsh but Petric made
no mistake with his spot-kick, sending Joe Hart the wrong way with a
well-struck left-footed effort.

The Croatia international wasted a
decent chance to double Fulham's advantage five minutes later as he
scooped over after fine link-up play with Hugo Rodallega.

The visitors were remaining patient in
their build-up play and it would have paid dividends in the 25th minute
had Brede Hangeland not swept clear Zabaleta's driven ball across the
six-yard box.

Both sides came close from set pieces
as the half-hour mark approached as first Riise saw a venomous 35-yard
free-kick saved by Hart.

David Silva then whipped in a corner
that was nodded to the back post by Javi Garcia, although Sergio
Aguero's close range header could only find the side netting.

City were becoming visibly frustrated
by their start to the game and Carlos Tevez confronted Riise after the
striker had claims for a penalty waved away.

In it goes: Joe Hart was beaten by Mladen Petric from the spot

In it goes: Joe Hart was beaten by Mladen Petric from the spot

Strong bench: Dzeko and Mario Balotelli (back) were sent on to turn things around for City

Strong bench: Dzeko and Mario Balotelli (back) were sent on to turn things around for City

It's gone in! Hart was well-beaten by Petric's accurate penalty

It's gone in! Hart was well-beaten by Petric's accurate penalty

Gael Clichy tested Schwarzer with a
hopeful left-foot drive as the reigning champions pressed for a
leveller, although they were still struggling to stifle the Whites at
the other end.

Vincent Kompany was booked for
bringing down Petric on the edge of the 18-yard box and was fortunate
Bryan Ruiz fired wide after the resulting free-kick was blocked.

While Fulham were threatening, they were having to defend at their best to keep City out.

Aaron Hughes and Schwarzer combined
superbly to somehow stop the visitors' bundled effort on the line,
before the latter showed great reactions to thwart Silva and Hughes
cleared from the cross that followed.

But for all that defensive work, Fulham could not quite maintain their lead heading into half-time.

Class act: David Silva pulled the strings in midfield

Class act: David Silva pulled the strings in midfield

Battle: Fulham clung on for the duration of the match before Dzeko's winner

Battle: Fulham clung on for the duration of the match before Dzeko's winner

Close call: Roberto Mancini watched his side snatch a last-gasp win

Close call: Roberto Mancini watched his side snatch a last-gasp win

Tevez's deflected shot was turned
goalwards by Silva, which forced Schwarzer into a fine save that
unfortunately for the veteran fell kindly for Aguero to tuck away.

The tempo slowed as the second-half begun as Fulham continued in their attempts to contain City.

After Hangeland came close after
connecting with a Ruiz corner four minutes in, most of the play was at
the other end and Aguero was unfortunate to see a header loop just wide
of the far post.

Mario Balotelli came on for Tevez with
25 minutes remaining as the visitors looked for a new attacking outlet,
while Alex Kacaniklic replaced Petric for the hosts.

Five minutes after coming on both introductions were having an impact as first Balotelli curled wide from the edge of the box.

Kacaniklic then darted down the left
and, after seeing an appeal for a handball against Zabaleta turned down,
saw his blocked cross fall to Ruiz, whose strike would have nestled in
the top corner had it not been for a Hart save.

Giorgos Karagounis came on for his
Fulham debut with the clock winding down, while Samir Nasri and Dzeko
were brought on in a bid to change the course of the game.

Less than two minutes after the
latter's introduction the plan worked as Riise's failure to clear a
Clichy cross allowed Dzeko to rifle home inside the box and secure three
points.

Wayne Rooney knows he has to fight for Manchester United place

Rooney admits he faces battle for Manchester United place after returning from injury

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UPDATED:

15:24 GMT, 28 September 2012

Wayne Rooney knows he is entering a heated battle for a first-team slot at Manchester United as he prepares to make his Barclays Premier League return from injury.

With the England striker now recovered from the gashed thigh he suffered against Fulham last month, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has five top international forwards to select from ahead of Saturday evening's encounter with Tottenham.

It says something that perceived first-choice pairing Rooney and Robin van Persie have yet to start a game together this season, yet still United have managed to move their way into second spot, just behind early pace-setters Chelsea.

Fight: Wayne Rooney must earn his place

Fight: Wayne Rooney must earn his place

However, with a tricky Capital One Cup tie against Newcastle already negotiated, a Champions League encounter with CFR Cluj to come on Tuesday before a Premier League rematch with the Magpies next Sunday, Rooney realises there is plenty of work for everyone.

'There is a lot of competition up front, but that is great for the squad,' said Rooney. 'The manager will rotate when he feels it is necessary.

'There are a lot of games throughout the season. It means we can get a rest here and there to make sure we are ready for the big games towards the end.'

Rooney occupied a deep-lying role against Newcastle, which allowed him to exploit gaps behind Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez.

Very effective the 26-year-old was too, although whether it is a policy Ferguson would be prepared to persevere with in the Premier League is open to debate.

Rooney is not complaining though.

After being dropped against Fulham, then getting trodden on by Hugo Rodallega when he was finally introduced, it feels like the season is starting again.

'It does feel like the start of my season,' he said.

Big guns: Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck (below) are tough competition

Big guns: Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck (below) are tough competition

Danny Welbeck

'It was a freak injury and whilst it wasn't too bad, I had to be careful when I came back training and in games because it could open up again.

'There is only so much you can do in the gym. You need that training and game time to get you to your full sharpness. I am glad to be over it and back playing.'

Now Ferguson must decide whether to finally partner Rooney with Van Persie or keep faith with Shinji Kagawa, who joined the Dutchman in United's starting line-up at Liverpool last week.

Without a win at Old Trafford since 1989, Tottenham are the kind of team United usually relish hosting.

Rooney has also bagged seven goals against the north London outfit, which gives him hope he will have a good day.

Me too: Javier Hernandez is also vying for selection

Me too: Javier Hernandez is also vying for selection

'We always seem to do well against Tottenham,' he said. 'Hopefully that will continue.

'But they are a good team with great players. We know it will be tough and we will need to be at our best to beat them.'

And maybe with a bit more fluency than they have managed so far this term.

'We would like to play a little bit better and not concede as many goals as we have early in the season,' he said.

'It is something we have been working on. Hopefully it will happen for us.'

Hugo Rodallega praised by managers old and new as Fulham hitman opts not to celebrate header

Rodallega praised by managers old and new as Fulham hitman opts not to celebrate header

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UPDATED:

18:15 GMT, 22 September 2012

Hugo Rodallega earned the praise of both managers as he helped Fulham to their first away win of the season against his former club Wigan.

The Colombian left the Latics in the summer after refusing to sign a new contract and scored his first goal for his new club at the DW Stadium in Fulham's 2-1 victory.

Rodallega is Wigan's all-time leading goalscorer in the Barclays Premier League with 24 and, after a few boos early in the game, he was applauded by the home fans when he chose not to celebrate his bullet header.

The striker was then applauded by all sides of the ground when he was substituted late in the game.

Well-earned: Hugo Rodallega is congratulated by boss Martin Jol

Well-earned: Hugo Rodallega is congratulated by boss Martin Jol

Fulham boss Martin Jol said: 'I knew Rodallega would be very eager and motivated to do something nice, to score his goal and that was exactly what he did, so that was ever so pleasing for us. He showed respect to the people and they showed him respect as well.'

Rodallega's goal came in the 31st minute and Damien Duff added a second for the visitors in the 68th minute before Arouna Kone pulled one back in injury time.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said of his former player: 'Hugo showed real respect to the fans. It could have been easy for him to celebrate the goal, and rightly so. It was a nice gesture from him and the fans recognised that.

'Nothing hurts you more than losing a football game and nothing gives you more happiness than winning a football game so showing the respect of controlling the emotions I think was a nice touch.'

Although Rodallega was the headline maker, his goal owed much to the talents of Dimitar Berbatov, who again showed what a great signing he looks set to be.

Tricky customer: Dimitar Berbatov skips Gary Caldwell

Tricky customer: Dimitar Berbatov skips Gary Caldwell

The former Manchester United man was a class above all afternoon and picked out the head of Rodallega with a peach of a cross, while he was denied three times by Ali Al Habsi as he came close to adding to his two goals against West Brom last weekend.

Jol said: 'I always thought he was a fantastic player, the only thing I see now is he can play in a different position as well.

'If
you go and play against Wigan in an away game you take a big gamble to
play with two strikers. I made the gamble to play with Hugo up top and
Dimitar, and he was probably the best number 10 you can ever imagine.'

Fulham certainly merited their lead but Wigan only had themselves to blame for failing to pull level.

In
the first half Jordi Gomez was desperately unlucky to see his
well-struck shot hit the underside of the bar but Kone and substitute
Mauro Boselli both missed glorious openings in the second.

They
were made to pay when substitute Bryan Ruiz set up Duff for a
clinically-taken second, and when Kone did eventually find the net with a
crisp turn and shot it was too little, too late.

The
result lifted Fulham into the top four, for 24 hours at least, while
for Wigan it was a third defeat of the season and left them still
without a home win.

Martinez was far from happy with his side but felt the result was harsh, saying: 'I don't think we deserved to lose.

'What Fulham did was created a few chances, probably more than we would like. I thought from open play a couple of times we showed a lack of intensity in defence but we had the better chances.

Familiar face: Roadallega powers past Ali Al Habsi

Familiar face: Roadallega powers past Ali Al Habsi

'When Jordi hits the crossbar it seems that it's not going to be your day. Arouna Kone and Mauro Boselli's chances were as open as you're going to get and you need to score goals.

'We need to improve in certain aspects, we can't concede goals so cheaply because then it becomes very difficult to win games.'