Premier League: Dimitar Berbatov scores twice as Fulham defeat QPR in thriller
Last Updated: 03/04/13 2:22pm
A Dimitar Berbatov brace ensured 10-man Fulham gained sweet revenge over relegation-threatened QPR in a thrilling 3-2 victory at Craven Cottage.
The Cottagers, who were beaten by their West London neighbours earlier in the season, got off to the perfect start and went three up.
Best of the Match
- Man of the match: Dimitar Berbatov was simply out of this world at times
- Goal of the match: Loic Remy saw his penalty saved, but made amends with a cracking goal minutes later
- Gaffe of the match: Clint Hill's first-half display left a lot to be desired and he scored an own goal
- Tackle of the match: Steve Sidwell was given a straight red card for a late and nasty challenge on Armand Traore
- Sub of the match: Urby Emanuelson came on for the injured Ashkan Dejagah in the first-half, but was subbed with 12 minutes remaining
- Talking point: QPR's chances of beating the drop look bleaker than ever. Are they now destined for the Championship?
Bulgarian Berbatov scored in his fourth consecutive game as he calmly rolled home an early penalty before adding a second soon after.
An own goal by Clint Hill gave the Cottagers a seemingly unassailable lead, but Adel Taarabt's strike late in the first half gave QPR a glimmer of hope.
Loic Remy then saw his penalty saved by Mark Schwarzer before making amends just minutes later but Harry Redknapp's side could not find the equaliser and now remain seven points from safety with seven games of the season remaining.
Last season QPR suffered an embarrassing 6-0 defeat at Craven Cottage and it looked like there could be a similar scoreline after a dominant first-half display by the hosts.
Marquee January signing Christopher Samba gifted the Cottagers their first two goals, bringing down Ashkan Dejagah to allow Berbatov to net an eighth-minute penalty. Things got worse soon after when Samba lost possession of the ball on the edge of his own box, allowing Berbatov to coolly slot home past Julio Cesar.
Chants of "going down" echoed around Craven Cottage when Hill put a John Arne Riise cross into his goal, but QPR rallied and launched the unlikeliest of comebacks.
Taarabt, who stormed out at half-time of last season's Craven Cottage encounter, reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time firing low past Schwarzer.
Six minutes into the second half, referee Lee Probert pointed to the spot after Giorgos Karagounis was fooled by the quick feet of Taarabt, but Remy's penalty was saved to his left by Schwarzer.
The France international, though, soon made amends, losing marker Philippe Senderos and continuing forward before thrashing home off the underside of the bar.
The veteran Australian had to be at his best for the rest of the match and, despite Steve Sidwell's late sending off, Fulham held on, condemning QPR to a potentially season-defining defeat and leaving their Premier League status in serious danger.
After the final whistle, QPR boss Redknapp was in no mood to make excuses for his side's defensive display in the opening 45 minutes.
He told Sky Sports: "A disastrous first half cost us, they were the worst goals I've seen in my life. They were scandalous goals. It was an absolute disaster."
Meanwhile, Fulham manager Martin Jol admitted he was pleased with the three points but disappointed his side let QPR back into the match.
"It was a great game for the spectators," the Dutchman said.
"Overall it was a bit disappointing at 3-0 up and then you make it difficult for yourself."
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Fulham v QPR
Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell has had his claim for wrongful dismissal rejected by the Football Association.
Fulham boss Martin Jol believes they have ended any lingering relegation fears after moving on to 39 points.
Fulham defender Brede Hangeland reckons the team can now focus on a top 10 finish in the league.