Fulham 1 Southampton 1: Berbatov gets shirty but Lambert has final say
17:40 GMT, 26 December 2012
Rickie Lambert's late penalty secured
Southampton a hard-earned point in west London as Fulham's poor recent
run continued today.
The Boxing Day encounter at Craven Cottage was of grave importance to both sides given their position near the relegation zone.
Cool head: Kelvin Davis of Southampton spills the ball to allow Dimitar Berbatov to score
Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Dejagah (Frei 67), Sidwell, Baird, Kacaniklic (Ruiz 46), Berbatov, Rodallega (Karagounis 78). Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Kelly, Briggs, Hughes.
Booked: Berbatov, Riise, Senderos.
Goals: Berbatov 8.
Southampton: Kelvin Davis,Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw, Schneiderlin,
Cork, Steven Davis (Rodriguez 78), Puncheon, Ramirez (Do Prado 90), Lambert. Subs Not Used: Boruc, Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse, Richardson, Mayuka.
Goals: Lambert 85 pen.
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).
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Fulham came into the match with just one win in 10 matches but got off to the best possible start, taking the lead inside eight minutes.
Kelvin Davis could only fumble a Sascha Riether cross into the path of Dimitar Berbatov, who duly slotted home off balance at the far post.
The Bulgarian celebrated by revealing a shirt saying 'Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball', although he failed to stay true to his word by somehow heading wide shortly afterwards.
The miss allowed Southampton back into the game and, after a number of missed opportunities, the strugglers grabbed a late leveller.
Saints academy graduate Chris Baird was adjudged to have handled a Gaston Ramirez corner, allowing Lambert to continue his 100 per cent success rate from the spot five minutes from time.
Steven Sidwell was one of three Fulham changes for today's match and should have given them a third-minute lead.
Stunt: Berbatov gets his message across after scoring
In the book: Not everyone was impressed with his shirt stunt
The ball was played in from the left flank and the central midfielder's low strike from the edge of the box went just wide.
It epitomised a bright start from the hosts, who needed just eight minutes to score the opener.
Riether's low driven ball from the right was fumbled by goalkeeper Davis, allowing Berbatov to slot home unmarked.
The former Manchester United striker
was booked for revealing the personalised t-shirt when celebrating but
should have soon had a second goal, nodding wide a weighted Alex
Spot on: Rickie Lambert scores late equaliser
Southampton's first opportunity of
note took 20 minutes to create, with a fierce Jack Cork strike from 25
yards well dealt with by Mark Schwarzer.
Berbatov was somewhat fortunate not to
receive a second yellow card for a late lunge on Jason Puncheon as both
sides struggled to keep possession in miserable conditions.
Davis dealt with a deflected John Arne
Riise shot, before Morgan Schneiderlin put wide and a fizzing Lambert
cross was cleared from danger by Baird.
Ramirez – accused of stamping on Riise
moments earlier – then saw a shot blocked by Berbatov as the visitors
pressed for a leveller.
Martin Jol brought on Bryan Ruiz in
place of the impressive Kacaniklic for the second half, with Puncheon
fizzing an effort wide shortly after the restart.
Head case: Fulham's Steve Sidwell shows no fear in challenge with Nathaniel Clyne
Touch and go: Southampton manager Nigel Adkins and Fulham boss Martin Jol (right)
Fulham were waiting patiently for their second goal, which was almost gifted to them by Luke Shaw.
The 17-year-old left-back's
uncharacteristic slip allowed Ashkan Dejagah through on goal, but the
winger lost his bearings and fired well wide.
Saints soon returned to the attack and Puncheon was called offside just as he struck at Schwarzer.
Dejagah saw a cross-shot flash wide
moments before he was replaced by Kerim Frei, with Brede Hangeland
having an effort blocked soon after.
Saints, though, were proving a thorn in Fulham's side, with Lambert close with a thumping volley 13 minutes from time.
Late drama: Referee Phil Dowd points to the spot
Slick Rick: Lambert scores the equaliser
Nigel Adkins brought on Jay Rodriguez in a late bid to find an equaliser, which came in the 85th minute.
Ramirez floated in a corner from the
left and Baird was adjudged to have handled under pressure from Lambert,
who stepped up to fire into the top left-hand corner.
Fulham claimed unsuccessfully for a
penalty of their own shortly afterwards when Maya Yoshida barged
Philippe Senderos, before Ramirez's audacious 25-yard strike slipped out
of Schwarzer's grasp and had to be stopped on the line.
Sidwell flashed a volley inches wide and Hangeland came close in stoppage time, but Adkins' side held out for a point.