Five-star Fulham maul Canaries
Rampant Cottagers run riot on opening day of the season
By Jamie Casey. Last Updated: 18/08/12 7:04pm
Damien Duff pokes in the opening goal on 26 minutes
Fulham opened their Premier League season with an emphatic 5-0 win over Norwich at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Man of the match: Debutant Mladen Petric is off to a flier with his new club, scoring twice and assisting another on a fine introduction to the Premier League. Goal of the match: Alex Kacaniklic finished off the move of the day, but it was all about the build-up as Dembele picked out Petric, who backheeled the Swede through on goal. Save of the match: Despite the scoreline, John Ruddy saved Norwich from further embarrassment, with the pick of his saves coming from Petric's early effort at the near post. Talking points: Can Norwich adapt to the changes since Lambert's departure? Will Clint Dempsey perform a U-turn on the back of this performance?
The Cottagers controlled the game from the off, with Damien Duff providing the breakthrough on 26 minutes after being picked out by John-Arne Riise.
Four minutes before half-time, debutant Mladen Petric glanced in the first of his two goals, with the second coming less than ten minutes into the second half.
Alex Kacaniklic provided Fulham's fourth in a well-worked goal involving the impressive Petric, before a late Steve Sidwell penalty completed the rout.
The Cottagers put on a sublime display to tear Norwich apart and demoralise the Canaries fans who had travelled to London hoping to see Chris Hughton win his first match in charge of the Norfolk club.
Norwich looked a shadow of the team that finished 12th under Paul Lambert last year, and had it not been for a good performance from John Ruddy, the Canaries could well have conceded seven or eight.
A Fulham victory looked on the cards from the off. The home side started confidently, with Kacaniklic and Bryan Ruiz both swinging in dangerous crosses that just evaded Petric.
Brede Hangeland sent a raking ball over the Norwich defence to find Duff, but Michael Turner came to the Canaries' rescue by nudging the winger out wide.
Norwich raced up the other end and forced Mark Schwarzer into a save when Andrew Surman fired at goal, but that proved to be the visitors' only chance of the first half as Fulham dominated.
Ruddy's awful clearance landed straight at the feet of Ruiz, but the Costa Rican cleared the bar while the Canaries keeper raced back to his line.
Ruddy made amends by saving well from Riise and Petric, but the Norwich goalkeeper was beaten soon after by Duff's opener.
Riise hit a delightful cross-field pass to find the former Blackburn man and his shot trickled in off Ruddy's outstretched leg.
Fulham almost added a second when Petric found Ruiz in the box but Ryan Bennett raced across the back four to put in a crucial tackle.
The Cottagers had their second from the resulting corner, however, as Petric glanced home Duff's cross in. Jonathan Howson hooked the ball clear, but the linesman correctly ruled it had already crossed the line.
Ruddy pulled off a terrific flying save to deny Ruiz just before half-time as Fulham threatened to run riot.
Hughton brought on Steve Morison for Andrew Surman and switched to 4-4-2, but Norwich were still by far the worst team on the pitch.
Eight minutes into the second half Fulham scored their third.
Ruiz found Petric in space and the Croatian fired home a 30-yard shot that took a wicked deflection off Turner.
Thirteen minutes later it was 4-0. Petric backheeled into the path of Kacaniklic from a Moussa Dembele pass and the 21-year-old finished calmly.
The backheel proved to be Petric's last contribution to the game as he was substituted for fellow debutant Hugo Rodallega.
Bradley Johnson found space on the edge of the Fulham box and forced Schwarzer into a rare save, but the home side hit back and were not willing to settle for four.
Kacaniklic lost his marker after drifting in from the flank and fired a powerful shot that Ruddy did well to save.
Four minutes from the end Fulham were gifted another goal when Turner's awful tackle on Rodallega earned the London club a penalty and Sidwell hammered the spot-kick into the roof of the net.
"Are you watching Clint Dempsey?" echoed around Craven Cottage in the closing stages, the home fans clearly delighted that they had opened their season with an emphatic victory without their leading talisman.
|Fulham||Team Statistics||Norwich City|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||2|
|2||Shots off Target||4|
|57.1||1st Half Poss.||42.9|
|62.8||2nd Half Poss.||37.2|
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||34||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||33|