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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
C Palace 2-0 Fulham
Palace players celebrate Aki Riihilahti's goal
Crystal Palace lifted themselves off the bottom of the Premiership with a deserved victory over 10-man Fulham.

The visitors began poorly as Ian Pearce was red-carded after five minutes for impeding Andy Johnson's run on goal.

Johnson fired home a fine opener on 53 minutes, blasting the ball between Edwin van der Sar's legs from close range after Aki Riihilahti's pass.

Riihilahti then netted his first Palace goal since November 2002 with a strong header after Wayne Routledge's corner.

Johnson - who was lively all match, if occasionally wayward - had already smashed an opportunity into the legs of Van der Sar, before Pearce got his marching orders.

The 30-year-old former West Ham centre-back made a hash of a back pass to Van der Sar and blocked Johnson's run leaving referee Mike Riley little option.

The visitors reshuffled, bringing on Alain Goma for Tomasz Radzinski.

But Riihilahti sent a header wide as Palace dominated possession without producing a killer final ball.

Mark Pembridge produced a rare penetrating cross on 39 minutes, but was left bemused as Johnson contrived to head wide from five yards.

Emmerson Boyce also hammered in a long-range effort minutes before the interval, but Van der Sar was equal to it.

Palace finally made the breakthrough they threatened in the first half with a fine goal.

Johnson will take the plaudits for his assured finish, but it was Riihilahti's superb first time pass which created the opportunity for the young striker.

Fulham were stung into action and Steed Malbranque fired a long-range effort into the body of the under-worked Gabor Kiraly.

But Palace continued to press and looked more likely to score than their beleaguered visitors, and it was little surprise when they doubled their lead with 21 minutes remaining.

Riihilahti turned from provider to scorer, rising unmarked to power Wayne Routledge's corner past the flailing Van der Sar.

Palace's Ivan Kaviedes saw a shot saved by Van der Sar after a mazy run as the home side looked for a third.

Johnson then saw a convincing-looking penalty claim waved away, although Fulham's Luis Boa Morte was twice denied by Kiraly inside a minute.

Yet Palace had a flurry of chances late on there was still time for Johnson to miss an absolute sitter, pulling the ball wide after breaking clean through, while Kaviedes blasted against the post in the final minutes.

Joonas Kolkka then saw a deflected shot whistle just over as Palace finished strongly.

Crystal Palace: Kiraly, Boyce, Popovic, Hall (Sorondo 45), Granville, Watson, Routledge (Lakis 72), Riihilahti (Kaviedes 74), Hughes, Kolkka, Johnson.
Subs Not Used: Speroni, Torghelle.

Booked: Johnson.

Goals: Johnson 53, Riihilahti 69.

Fulham: Van der Sar, Volz, Pearce, Knight, Green, Malbranque, McKinlay, Pembridge, Boa Morte, McBride (John 62), Radzinski (Goma 9), Goma (Bocanegra 62).
Subs Not Used: Crossley, Rehman.

Sent Off: Pearce (6).

Booked: Bocanegra.

Att: 21,825

Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).

Report: BBC Five Live's David Oates

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