Dempsey (centre) opened the scoring for the home side just before half time
By Phil Dawkes
Europa League finalists Fulham secured their first home league win over West Ham in 44 years with victory in a closely-contested London derby.
Clint Dempsey's neat finish gave Fulham the lead just before half time, which was doubled when Carlton Cole deflected Chris Baird's shot into his own net.
Cole made amends by heading his side back into contention, but substitute Stefano Okaka restored Fulham's lead.
Guillermo Franco's late tap-in came too late for West Ham to salvage a point.
It leaves the Hammers still mathematically vulnerable to relegation but not realistically as Hull must not only win their final two games but must also overturn a 22-strong goal-difference deficit.
Hodgson grateful for managers' praise
The defeat is West Ham's first to Fulham in the Premier League and their first loss at Craven Cottage since a League Cup defeat 35 years ago, but they did not succumb to it easily.
It is understandable if the focus of the Fulham players is on non-domestic matters at present, having beaten German side Hamburg to seal a showdown with Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final on 12 May.
And in what seems a clear nod towards their end of season priorities, Cottagers boss Roy Hodgson made seven changes from the side that started on Thursday which often made for an understandably incohesive home display.
However, it is a luxury to be able to bring in a player of Dempsey's class and he demonstrated this early on with a chipped effort that flicked the bar on its way over and then with a neat finish from 15 yards after being released by Simon Davies to give his side the lead seconds before the break.
localgroundhopper (aka oddball, friend of Mr.Moon)
Barring the brief hope given to the visitors by Cole's goal - headed home from a Mark Noble free-kick - Fulham rarely looked like relinquishing their advantage once it had been so timely seized.
They doubled their advantage just before the hour when from the breakdown from a corner, defender Chris Baird was given space to fire a shot which took a wicked deflection off Cole and beat Hammers keeper Robert Green.
Cole made amends by almost immediately scoring at the right end but West Ham could not build on the lifeline and their hopes were extinguished when Okaka tapped in Bjorn Helge Riise's cross with 10 minutes to go.
Hammers feeling effects of long season - Zola
It could have been so different for West Ham, who had fashioned the better chances in the first half and looked set to push on in the second before Dempsey's crucial intervention.
Home goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was twice forced to palm behind in the opening 45 minutes, firstly from Mark Noble's curling effort from the edge of the area and then later from Manuel da Costa's speculative but fiercely-struck 35-yard dipping drive.
In addition, from the corner resulting from Da Costa's attempt, Radoslav Kovac found himself unmarked but headed wide.
Had any of these chances found the net they could have been leaving Craven Cottage with their long unbeaten record intact and Franco's injury time goal - a tap in from a Scott Parker pull-back - could have earned them at least the point that would have put their relegation battle to bed.
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson:
"I wanted to win. I didn't want to have an 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' feeling.
"I thought our performance was very disciplined and hard-working and that we were good value for our victory.
"I am delighted we could rest some players and I am pleased with those who came in."
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola:
"I thought in the first half we were the better team but then they scored the first goal.
"We came here to win but it did not work out. It is not the first time away from home. We have to do better.
"I don't want to look for excuses. We have not been good enough away and I am the first to take responsibility for that."
90:00+3:12 The referee blows for the end of the match.
90:00+2:30 Chris Smalling fouled by Carlton Cole, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
90:00+1:12 Assist on the goal came from Scott Parker.
90:00+1:12 GOAL - Guillermo Franco:Fulham 3 - 2 West Ham Guillermo Franco gets on the score sheet with a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal.
Fulham 3-2 West Ham.
90:00+0:39 Corner taken by Mark Noble from the right by-line, Stefano Okaka manages to make a clearance.
90:00+0:29 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mark Noble by Stefano Okaka. Mark Noble restarts play with the free kick.
89:38 Carlton Cole gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Elm. Free kick taken by Paul Konchesky.
88:55 The referee blows for offside against Bjorn Helge Riise. Robert Green takes the free kick.
87:39 Manuel da Costa fouled by Stefano Okaka, the ref awards a free kick. Manuel da Costa takes the free kick.
87:18 Alessandro Diamanti gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Bjorn Helge Riise. Paul Konchesky restarts play with
the free kick.
84:49 Substitution David Elm is brought on as a substitute for Clinton Dempsey.
81:15 Paul Konchesky takes the direct free kick.
81:15 Substitution Junior Stanislas comes on in place of Valon Behrami.
81:15 Free kick awarded for a foul by Radoslav Kovac on Bjorn Helge Riise.
Correction - 79:00 The assist for the goal came from Erik Nevland.
79:00 Bjorn Helge Riise provided the assist for the goal.
79:00 GOAL - Stefano Okaka:Fulham 3 - 1 West Ham Stefano Okaka scores a goal from close in to the top left corner of the goal. Fulham 3-1 West Ham.
77:21 The ball is delivered by Bjorn Helge Riise, clearance by Carlton Cole. Corner taken by Bjorn Helge Riise.
76:51 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Bjorn Helge Riise from the left by-line, save made by Robert Green.
76:30 Unfair challenge on Bjorn Helge Riise by Radoslav Kovac results in a free kick. Jonathan Greening restarts play with the free
71:02 The ball is sent over by Alessandro Diamanti, Mark Schwarzer makes a save.
69:06 Free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
69:06 Substitution Stefano Okaka on for Simon Davies.
69:06 Scott Parker handles the ball and concedes a free kick.
65:45 Scott Parker concedes a free kick for a foul on Bjorn Helge Riise. Jonathan Greening takes the direct free kick.
65:05 Carlton Cole takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer.
64:23 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Clinton Dempsey by Radoslav Kovac. Direct free kick taken by Paul Konchesky.
60:50 The assist for the goal came from Mark Noble. Corner taken right-footed by Bjorn Helge Riise from the right by-line to the
near post, clearance by Manuel da Costa.
60:50 GOAL - Carlton Cole:Fulham 2 - 1 West Ham Carlton Cole scores a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Fulham 2-1 West Ham.
60:09 Mark Noble crosses the ball,
60:09 Substitution (West Ham) makes a substitution, with Alessandro Diamanti coming on for Julien Faubert.
60:09 Carlton Cole fouled by Kagisho Dikgacoi, the ref awards a free kick.
57:53 Chris Baird provided the assist for the goal.
57:53 GOAL - Carlton Cole:Fulham 2 - 0 West Ham An unfortunate own goal is conceded by Carlton Cole. Fulham 2-0 West Ham.
57:28 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Simon Davies from the left by-line, Chris Baird has an effort at goal. Blocked by
55:46 Corner taken by Bjorn Helge Riise from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Jonathan Spector. Outswinging
corner taken by Bjorn Helge Riise. The ball is delivered by Jonathan Greening, save by Robert Green.
54:58 The assistant referee signals for offside against Araujo Ilan. Free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
53:05 The ball is crossed by Paul Konchesky, clearance by Matthew Upson.
51:17 Matthew Upson fouled by Erik Nevland, the ref awards a free kick. Robert Green restarts play with the free kick.
49:37 John Pantsil fouled by Mark Noble, the ref awards a free kick. Mark Schwarzer restarts play with the free kick.
48:52 Jonathan Greening delivers a pass corner to short, clearance by Matthew Upson.
47:21 Carlton Cole concedes a free kick for a foul on Chris Baird. Direct free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
46:54 The referee gives a free kick against Clinton Dempsey for handball. Free kick taken by Scott Parker.
45:51 Scott Parker challenges Bjorn Helge Riise unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Jonathan Greening.
45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
45:00+0:29 The ref blows to end the first period.
44:42 Assist on the goal came from Simon Davies.
44:42 GOAL - Clinton Dempsey:Fulham 1 - 0 West Ham Goal scored by Clinton Dempsey from inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Fulham 1-0 West Ham.
43:40 The referee blows for offside against Carlton Cole. Free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
42:51 Araujo Ilan is caught offside. Mark Schwarzer takes the indirect free kick.
42:09 The ball is sent over by Julien Faubert, Simon Davies gets a block in.
40:42 Effort from 35+ yards by Manuel da Costa. Save by Mark Schwarzer. Outswinging corner taken by Mark Noble, Header from close
range by Radoslav Kovac misses to the right of the goal.
39:22 Paul Konchesky is penalised for a handball. Direct free kick taken by Scott Parker.
32:49 Unfair challenge on Simon Davies by Valon Behrami results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Paul Konchesky.
28:19 The referee penalises Jonathan Greening for handball. Mark Noble restarts play with the free kick. The assistant referee flags
for offside against Carlton Cole. Free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
27:54 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matthew Upson by Clinton Dempsey. Free kick taken by Robert Green.
25:25 Clinton Dempsey takes a shot.
24:10 The ball is swung over by Bjorn Helge Riise, save by Robert Green.
22:40 Mark Noble takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer. Corner taken by Mark Noble, Header by Matthew Upson from deep inside the
penalty area misses to the left of the target.
20:53 Jonathan Greening challenges Carlton Cole unfairly and gives away a free kick. Mark Noble restarts play with the free kick.
18:06 Bjorn Helge Riise gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Spector. Free kick taken by Robert Green.
14:59 Unfair challenge on Chris Smalling by Carlton Cole results in a free kick. Jonathan Greening takes the free kick.
13:18 Valon Behrami fouled by Kagisho Dikgacoi, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed by Mark Noble.
12:31 Outswinging corner taken by Bjorn Helge Riise, clearance made by Manuel da Costa.
12:03 Carlton Cole challenges Chris Baird unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
11:02 Bjorn Helge Riise concedes a free kick for a foul on Mark Noble. Robert Green takes the free kick.
8:41 Julien Faubert produces a cross, Chris Smalling makes a clearance.
6:56 Mark Noble challenges Erik Nevland unfairly and gives away a free kick. Chris Baird takes the free kick.
5:17 John Pantsil delivers the ball, clearance made by Manuel da Costa.
4:10 Radoslav Kovac fouled by Simon Davies, the ref awards a free kick. Manuel da Costa takes the direct free kick.
2:51 Corner taken by Bjorn Helge Riise from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Carlton Cole.
0:43 Clinton Dempsey takes a shot. Manuel da Costa gets a block in.
0:00 The game gets underway.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.