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Page last updated at 21:52 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Fulham 1-0 Portsmouth

David James is unable to keep out Jonathan Greening's shot
The Portsmouth defenders look on in horror as Greening prods in the winner

By Mark Ashenden

Jonathan Greening's first goal for Fulham piled more misery on bottom-placed and cash-strapped Portsmouth.

The visitors will be devastated after missing a number of first-half chances, with striker Frederic Piquionne firing straight at keeper Mark Schwarzer.

Fulham's Stefano Okaka nodded an easy chance wide but his side took the lead on 74 minutes as Greening slotted in a Damien Duff cross from the right.

Kevin Boateng worked tirelessly for Pompey but Fulham held on for victory.

The result was a little harsh on Avram Grant's men, who attacked with vigour and creativity in the opening hour and only a lapse in concentration at the back caused their downfall in the capital.

Both teams had a miserable build-up to this crunch clash. Fulham suffered new injuries to Zoltan Gera and Andrew Johnson, while the financial woes of Portsmouth have continued with players arriving at Craven Cottage on the day they received a delayed pay cheque for the fourth time.

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Fulham boss Roy Hodgson would have hoped for a more lively start from new loan signings Okaka and Nicky Shorey, but it was the visitors who dominated the opening half an hour and only Schwarzer's backside prevented them from scoring the opener.

On-loan striker Piquionne, part of an ambitious three-pronged attack, was put through by Jamie O'Hara and the Fulham defenders, screaming for offside, were relieved to see the Martinique star's piledriver fortuitously saved.

The south coast club were picking up all the loose balls and looking anything but a team who had claimed only one point from their previous six matches on the road.

The lively Boateng was causing all sorts of problems from midfield and almost scored with a half-volley, but the Londoners, looking to avoid a sixth successive league defeat, finally emerged from their slumber.

Defender Aaron Hughes headed straight at keeper David James for their first chance of the game, and 10 minutes before half-time Okaka was guilty of one of the misses of the season.

Just three days after scoring a wonderful backheeled goal for Roma, the Italian headed wide from two feet after Greening had nodded down an inswinging cross from Dannny Murphy.

Back came Portsmouth as O'Hara blazed over after a series of desperate shot-blocking tackles, including one that denied Piquionne at close range.

A languid start to the second half was thankfully enlivened by Bobby Zamora coming close with two solid headers - the first straight into the hands of David James and the second, a glancing nod from Duff's cross from the right.

Hodgson sent on striker Erik Nevland in search of the winner and was almost rewarded within one minute after a 30-yard volley dipped narrowly over the bar.

But with 16 minutes remaining, Pompey were made to curse their earlier misses as Greening took full advantage of some sloppy defending.

Duff made another dangerous run down the right and after his cross flew past Zamora - in an offside position - the ball fell to Greening who calmly side-footed in for his first Fulham goal.

Portsmouth's heads understandably dropped and they rarely threatened again.

It was a huge relief for Fulham, as they bounce back from last week's home defeat to Aston Villa and rise to 10th spot.

But Pompey - still six points away from Premier League safety - now have to visit champions Manchester United on Saturday.


Fulham manager Roy Hodgson spoke about Andy Johnson's injury after the match.

Portsmouth manager Avram Grant:
"We played very good football, created a lot of chances and were by far the better team. They did not even deserve a draw. There was also a mistake by the referee in the goal, because Zamora was offside.

"After what has happened off the pitch, the players gave 100% and gave their heart.

"I am very proud because it is good that we showed even with the problems off the pitch, that we kept the spirit of the game and gave 100%. As long as we have a chance, we will fight.

"With the situation of the club, I am trying to do my best for the team. I love this club and when all of the city is supporting the team, I feel committed. I am trying to do my best in these circumstances."



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As it stands - Premier League table

 

Position Team P GD PTS
Full Premier League table
1 Chelsea 24 38 55
2 Man Utd 24 36 53
3 Arsenal 24 32 49
4 Tottenham 24 20 42
5 Liverpool 24 16 41
6 Man City 22 14 41
7 Aston Villa 23 13 40
8 Birmingham 23 -1 34
9 Everton 23 -1 32
10 Fulham 24 -2 28
11 Blackburn 24 -15 28
12 Stoke 22 -7 26
13 Sunderland 23 -10 24
14 Wigan 22 -23 22
15 West Ham 23 -9 21
16 Bolton 22 -15 21
17 Wolves 23 -21 21
18 Hull 24 -26 21
19 Burnley 23 -23 20
20 Portsmouth 23 -16 16

see also
Fulham's Johnson out for season
05 Feb 10 |  Fulham
Wednesday football as it happened
03 Feb 10 |  Football
Wednesday's football photos
03 Feb 10 |  Football



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