Fulham overcome Sunderland
Black Cats concede 15 seconds after pulling level
By Jess Miller @SkySportsJessM. Last Updated: 06/05/12 5:44pm
Clint Dempsey: Opened the scoring with a wonderfully hit free-kick
Fulham moved into eighth place in the Premier League with a 2-1 home win over Sunderland thanks to a deflected winning goal.
Clint Dempsey opened the scoring for Fulham on 12 minutes with a free-kick as he hit a wonderful dead-ball up and over the Sunderland wall and past the diving Simon Mignolet.
Phil Bardsley equalised on his 150th appearance with a rocket on 34 minutes, hitting an unstoppable effort from outside the box that flew in past Mark Schwarzer.
Sunderland were level for 15 seconds as straight from the kick-off Moussa Dembele was allowed to carry the ball from halfway and hit a strike that took a wicked deflection off Michael Turner to fly in.
Fraizer Campbell came on with 70 minutes gone and looked dangerous but wasted Sunderland's best chance dragging his shot wide from six yards after Nicklas Bendtner headed the ball down.
It was to be Sunderland's last real sight of goal as the home side took all three points in Fulham's last home game of the season.
The Whites were boosted heading into the game by the return of manager Martin Jol, who missed the recent trips to Everton and Liverpool through a chest infection.
The Dutchman brought Mahamadou Diarra in for Alex Kacaniklic to face Sunderland, who drafted Ji Dong-won, Mignolet and Craig Gardner into the starting line-up.
The visitors started brightly on the banks of the Thames but Fulham soon found their feet.
Having seen Pavel Pogrebnyak come close to connecting with a Damien Duff cross, the latter latched on to a superb long ball from the back only to see a well-struck effort smothered by Mignolet.
The early attacking impetus translated into the opening goal in the 12th minute when Fulham were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out.
Lee Cattermole blocked off Diarra and top scorer Dempsey stepped up to fire a right-footed effort with pace and swerve into the top corner.
The lead was almost wiped out four minutes later, though, as Stephane Sessegnon broke into the area, with only indecision and superb goalkeeping from Schwarzer thwarting the Benin international.
The Cottagers were soon back on the offensive in search of a second, which would have come through Pogrebnyak had Turner not been alert to block his goalbound strike eight yards from goal.
The game burst into life after 34 minutes when Bardsley finished a move he started.
The defender burst forward and collected a Ji cutback to fire home a right-footed thunderbolt from outside the box.
Sunderland, though, were not celebrating for long as Dembele fired an instant reply.
The much-vaunted Belgian broke from the halfway line and unleashed a 20-yard effort that took a slight deflection off Turner and flew into the top left-hand corner.
The Cottagers were chomping at the bit as they looked for a third and Duff fired into the side-netting, before the visitors came close through a Gardner free-kick.
It was Fulham that ended the first half the stronger and they continued in the same vein after the restart.
Pogrebnyak saw an effort deflect behind by John O'Shea and only a goal-line clearance from Jack Colback prevented Dempsey scoring a deft curling effort from the resulting corner.
Right-back Stephen Kelly joined in with the action by testing Mignolet with a
fierce drive, before the Sunderland goalkeeper got down well to parry a stinging Duff shot.
O'Neill brought on Bendtner for Ji in a bid to change the course of proceedings but Fulham were still on top, with Dempsey hitting the wall with a free-kick from a good position.
The Black Cats began to grow into the game following the introduction of the on-loan Arsenal striker, who was soon joined in attack by Campbell - on for Matthew Kilgallon.
The Whites were spending a lot of time on the back foot but came close to extending their lead when Dembele was put through one-on-one with Mignolet, although the Sunderland keeper produced a superb save.
The visitors returned to the attack immediately, though, as Campbell put through fellow substitute Bendtner, who could only curl wide when well placed.
The pair linked up again shortly afterwards as the latter's cushioned header set up Campbell, who could only lash wide from close range.
Turner headed straight at Schwarzer as Sunderland continued to press, before the hosts replaced Pogrebnyak and Murphy with Kerim Frei and Chris Baird.
Dembele saw a shot saved smartly by Mignolet as the clock wound down, before Schwarzer produced a superb save to prevent Campbell in stoppage time.
|2||1st Half Goals||1|
|8||Shots on Target||6|
|6||Shots off Target||5|
|56.2||1st Half Poss.||43.8|
|59.3||2nd Half Poss.||40.7|
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Bromwich Albion||6||8|
|13||West Ham United||6||7|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||6||4|