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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Saturday, 20 December 2008

Fulham 3-0 Middlesbrough

By Saj Chowdhury

Jimmy Bullard
Bullard was on hand to poke the ball into the Boro net

Fulham took their unbeaten Premier League run to seven games with an impressive win over Middlesbrough.

The home side took the lead shortly before the break when Jimmy Bullard poked in from three yards after Ross Turnbull parried Bobby Zamora's shot.

Danny Murphy made it 2-0 from the spot after referee Keith Stroud ruled Tony McMahon had handled the ball.

American Clint Dempsey rounded off the scoring when he slotted into the right corner from just inside the area.

Roy Hodgson's men deserved their victory in a match that had clocked 20 minutes before the Craven Cottage crowd were given something to gasp about.

Those gasps came at the home end when first Andrew Johnson saw his swivel and shot deflected wide by Ross Turnbull for a corner. And then from the set-piece defender John Pantsil fluffed his lines when he headed wide from three yards at the far post.

Hodgson delighted with important win

Johnson, who survived a late tackle by Julio Arca, but looked lively throughout, forced Turnbull into making another good save minutes later with a low shot as Fulham pressed.

The west London side finally made the breakthrough four minutes before the break.

Pantsil's low cross from the right found its way to Zamora, whose shot could only be parried by Turnbull into the path of the grateful Bullard.

Middlesbrough had a couple of chances midway through the half with Adam Johnson's strike inside the area blocked by former Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer before Tuncay Sanli sent his glancing header wide.

After the break, it all went drastically pear-shaped for a Boro side, who now have not won a Premier League match since 9 November.

Southgate rues 'unbelievable' decision

But Gareth Southgate's side could consider themselves slightly unfortunate to concede a second after the restart.

Defender McMahon saw his attempted clearance rebound on to his hand and referee Stroud gave the penalty after consulting with his assistant.

Fulham's Murphy kept his cool to squeeze the ball past Turnbull from the spot.

Former Liverpool midfielder Murphy was then involved in the third when he played a neat pass for Dempsey who picked his spot before slotting into the bottom right corner of the goal.

There were still 30 minutes left in the match but by this point the visitors were probably looking ahead to a tricky festive period including matches against Everton and Manchester United.


Fulham manager Roy Hodgson:
"It was a very important game just before Christmas because we have been playing well but not been winning.

"We managed to keep the level of our importance up and to also get the three points.

"We missed three gilt-edged chances and the thought came to me that here we go again.

"After we scored the first and we got a bit of luck when we were given a penalty for handball. After that second goal I was quite calm."

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
"We were not good enough or sharp enough or disciplined enough in the way we defended.

"There was huge decision given against us when we were 1-0 down when they were given a penalty and scored from it.

"We have had three unbelievable decisions against us in the last three weeks.

"We refuse to criticise referees but it is there for everyone to see."


Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Bullard (Andreasen 85), Murphy (Etuhu 79), Gera (Zamora 31), Dempsey, Johnson.
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Stoor, Kallio.

Goals: Bullard 41, Murphy 54 pen, Dempsey 59.

Middlesbrough: Turnbull, McMahon, Riggott, Huth (Taylor 85), Pogatetz, Johnson (Emnes 80), Shawky, Arca (Mido 46), Downing, Aliadiere, Sanli.
Subs Not Used: Jones, Alves, Wheater, Walker.

Booked: Arca, McMahon.

Att: 23,722

Ref: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Fulham's Bobby Zamora 7.94 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.



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see also
Premier League as it happened
20 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
20 Dec 08 |  Football
Hodgson angered by Bullard talk
20 Dec 08 |  Fulham


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