Stunning strikes lay foundations for Fulham fightback at Palace
First half goals from Pajtim Kasami and Steve Sidwell key to Cottagers bouncing back after early Eagles strike
Pajtim Kasami of Fulham celebrates after scoring a goal to level the scores at 1-1 during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Crystal Palace 1 Fulham 4: Fulham came from behind to hammer Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and consign the Eagles to a seventh Premier League defeat of the season.
Both managers were reportedly under pressure going in to the game and, with both club’s respective owners in attendance, Martin Jol will no doubt be the happier of the two managers after goals from Pajtim Kasami, Steve Sidwell, Dimitar Berbatov and Philippe Senderos, the first two of which were sumptuous volleys, gave the visitors a 4-1 win and a valuable three points.
Palace had led early on after Adrian Mariappa headed home his first goal for the club but, despite the first two Fulham goals coming from superb individual efforts, Eagles’ boss Ian Holloway would have been disappointed to see the third and fourth conceded from setpieces.
Much was made of Darren Bent’s appearance in a Fulham shirt at Selhurst Park after he came close to joining Palace before opting on a loan move to the Cottagers, but it was Kasami and Sidwell who stole the limelight as both struck memorable volleys to turn the game on it’s head.
The home side started the brightest with Dwight Gayle drifting inside from the right flank and hitting a tame shot at the returning Maarten Stekelenburg.
Palace’s opener came after just seven minutes after a corner was cleared well by the Fulham defence but the Eagles kept the ball alive as it was worked back to Jason Puncheon. The Southampton loanee delivered a hanging cross which was met by Mariappa, who towered above Brede Hangeland to nod the Eagles ahead despite giving away up to eight inches in height to the Fulham skipper.
Holloway’s side continued to dominate the early exchanges as Stuart O’Keefe came close to adding a second with a long-range shot that he dragged just wide of Stekelenburg’s right-hand post.
If Fulham had been mediocre in the first 15 minutes, their equalising goal was anything but as Kasami collected a long ball forward from Sascha Riether on his chest and, despite the close attention of Mariappa, rifled a volley of the highest calibre past Julian Speroni from the edge of the penalty area.
The goal did not spark either side in to life with both teams struggling to create a chance of note until the closing moments of the first half when Fulham’s second goal was scored with aplomb by Sidwell. A poor Bryan Ruiz free-kick slammed in to the wall and dropped to the 30-year-old midfielder who fired a dipping volley past Speroni to put the visitors in front.
Both sides made changes at the interval with Holloway introducing Jerome Thomas in place of Jose Campana and Fulham replacing captain Hangeland with Fernando Amorebieta. The hosts look to start the second half with the same tempo they set in the early stages and forced an early corner after two deep crosses had been dealt with by the visitors.
Bent should have then done better with a chance gifted to Fulham by Speroni. The goalkeeper’s clearance smacked in to Berbatov, who laid the ball in to the path of Bent but the Villa loanee’s effort was pushed behind by the Argentinian stopper.
However, Speroni’s reprieve did not last for long as Berbatov was on hand to steer Ruiz’s resulting corner past the despairing 34-year-old. Things went from bad to worse for Palace just five minutes later as Senderos was on hand to scissors-kick home another Ruiz corner from close range to give Fulham a truly unassailable lead.
Only a tremendous save from Speroni prevented Kasami adding a fifth with another rasping effort late on, with Fulham having to settle for four and equalling their best ever away win in the Premier League.