Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fulham crush West Brom

Bobby Zamora finally ended his long barren streak as Fulham condemned the top-flight's bottom side to a hopelessly one-sided 2-0 defeat.

Zamora had played more than 29 hours of Premier League football since his last goal but tapped home the opener from point-blank range before strike partner Andy Johnson added his ninth of the season to seal a well-earned victory.

The home side struck the woodwork four times with Clint Dempsey, Brede Hangeland and Danny Murphy, twice, the men to miss out, while Roman Bednar missed an injury-time penalty for the visitors.

Johnson showed an early willingness to run at the opposition, tempting Zuiverloon into a trip 25 yards from goal after four minutes.

Captain Murphy struck the free-kick brilliantly, curling his shot towards the near corner only for Scott Carson to tip the ball onto the post at full stretch.

Zamora was alert to the rebound but Abdoulaye Meite won the race to clear.

Fulham's dominance continued as Johnson collected a wonderful pass from Davies and sprinted towards goal.

He appealed for a penalty after tumbling under pressure from Leon Barnett but there did not appear to be any significant contact.

The hosts' confidence continued to grow and in the 19th minute Dickson Etuhu stung Carson's palms with a sweetly struck first-time volley from the edge of the area.

The visitors were holding on for dear life at times but were helped in the 23rd minute when Dempsey scooped his shot high and wide after good work from Johnson and Zamora.

The American was merely finding his range, though, and moments later took advantage of some reticent defending to arrow a swerving effort goalwards from nearly 25 yards.

Carson was comfortably beaten in the air but for a second time the woodwork came to West Brom's rescue.

Luck remained with the midlands side, Murphy striking the woodwork for a third time in the 33rd minute.

Johnson and Zamora carved the chance and Murphy's measured effort once again left Carson sprawling, only for the ball to clip the crossbar and bounce out.

The danger was not over for West Brom, though, with Murphy's chipped through ball causing a mix-up between Barnett and Carson.

With the goalkeeper set to collect, Barnett dived to head clear but only succeeded in steering the ball towards the line.

Carson scrambled back to paw the ball wide but Tony Mowbray's side looked shell-shocked and Zamora volleyed over from another fine chance moments later.

West Brom started the second period as they had ended the first, fumbling for possession and firmly on the back foot.

Mowbray threw on Northern Ireland winger Chris Brunt after 50 minutes in an attempt to make something happen and his first contribution, a free-kick from the right, handed Marc Antoine-Fortune a decent headed chance.

His second touch, just three minutes after coming on, was even better.

The former Sheffield Wednesday man broke down the flank and sent in a vicious left-footed cross which again found Fortune.

The striker was just six yards out but opted to take a touch and could not bring the ball down in time to get his shot away.

Carson was back in action soon enough, pulling off a smart reflex save after the ball ricocheted off Barnett from close range.

With an hour gone Zamora finally broke the deadlock from a yard.

Etuhu sent the ball in from the right, Johnson glanced the lightest of headers to the far post and his partner touched home for only his second goal of the season.

After a 21-game barren streak, the relief was tangible and he almost scored a second when he lashed just over two minutes later.

Robert Koren and Borja Valero both went close from distance as the Baggies tried to hit back.

Normal service was soon resumed, though, with Fulham striking the frame of the goal for a fourth time.

This time the unlucky man was defender Hangeland, whose header was kept out by a combination of Carson and the bar.

But with 71 minutes gone the Cottagers had a richly deserved second, the newly-confident Zamora taking a long ball on the chest before drilling powerfully towards the top corner.

The ball rebounded off Carson and into the path of Johnson, who took a touch before slotting into the vacant net.

Mark Schwarzer then capped things off when he saved Bednar's stoppage-time penalty, awarded for a trip on the striker by Hangeland.

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