Fulham bag crucial win against West Brom
Updated: Tuesday, 01 Jan 2013 21:09
Fulham eased their relegation worries as Alexander Kacaniklic's second-half goal earned them a shock 2-1 win at high-flying West Brom in the Premier League.
The Cottagers had slid towards the bottom three after winning only one of their previous 12 games but were well worth their second away success of the campaign.
Dimitar Berbatov's seventh goal of the season gave the Cottagers a half-time lead, and although Romelu Lukaku levelled after the break, Kacaniklic restored the visitors' advantage.
It enabled Fulham to complete their first ever Premier League win at the Hawthorns at the seventh attempt and a double after the 3-0 win at Craven Cottage in September.
Berbatov had netted twice in that game and was again an inspirational figure with his vision and control, while Kacaniklic was a handful down the flanks.
Albion struggled to produce the form which had taken them into the top half of the table, despite the efforts of on loan Chelsea striker Lukaku and fit again midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu.
Fulham knocked the ball about in confident fashion in the early stages with Kacaniklic prominent.
Steve Sidwell made a run towards the Baggies box unopposed but his shot flew well wide while three corners in quick succession were comfortably dealt with by the home defence.
Albion struggled to find any initial momentum and it was 20 minutes before they threatened, with Gareth McAuley heading past the post from a Chris Brunt free-kick.
Fulham keeper David Stockdale then raced off his line to save at the feet of Lukaku after he had exchanged passes with Zoltan Gera.
West Brom finally woke from their slumbers and Lukaku bore down on goal after shaking off the challenge of Sascha Riether, but Sidwell made good ground to put in a crucial tackle.
Gabriel Tamas glanced a header wide from a Brunt corner before Berbatov wasted a golden opportunity.
A mistake by Brunt left the former Manchester United player with a clear run towards Ben Foster but he shot over the bar.
But Berbatov made amends after 39 minutes by putting Fulham ahead.
Ashkan Dejagah turned inside Liam Ridgewell before squaring the ball across the box to Berbatov, whose first time shot flew past Foster.
Mulumbu headed wide from a Ridgewell centre but Albion left the pitch at half-time to the sound of boos after a below-par performance.
The atmosphere quickly changed with Lukaku needing only three minutes of the second period to bring West Brom on level terms.
Marc-Antoine Fortune spread the ball out wide to Billy Jones, who skipped past Sidwell before centring for Lukaku to make no mistake from close range.
The home side were revitalised and Lukaku held off Aaron Hughes before crashing a rising shot against the outside of a post.
Stockdale denied Lukaku and Gera in quick succession and the rebound broke to Brunt, whose shot was headed off the line by Aaron Hughes.
But after 57 minutes Fulham regained the lead against the run of play through Kacaniklic's third goal of the season.
Bryan Ruiz played a lofted ball forward to Kacaniklic on the edge of the box and he checked back inside before firing home.
Clarke made a double change after 65 minutes with Gera and Fortune making way for Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie.
Lukaku continued to pose a threat and was only just off target with his header from Long's centre.
But Fulham were looking full of confidence and Dejagah was only just off target with a dipping drive.