Cottagers just three points clear of drop zone after defeat at GoodisonEverton moved into the top eight of the Premier League after an entertaining evening of football at Goodison Park saw the Toffees hold on for a hard fought win over Fulham.
The game began with quick, end-to-end football but it didn’t take long for Everton to establish a foothold in the game as the visitors struggled to impose themselves.
Fulham were boxed inside their own half and the hosts were retaining possession well although were struggling to find an end product initially.
The first chance of the game came to Louis Saha after Tim Cahill’s left-footed strike deflected wide for a corner.
Leighton Baines drifted the corner in and Saha rose to nod a weak header past Mark Schwarzer before Carlos Salcido got behind it and cleared it off the line.
Everton continued to press and the home side were finally rewarded 10 minutes before half time when Baines picked up the ball in a wide position and his short pass found Leon Osman at the edge of the penalty area.
The midfielder’s quick feet evaded the defender and allowed him to pick out an unmarked Seamus Coleman at the far post and the impressive defender’s powerful header was directed back across the goal and into the top corner to give Everton the lead.
Everton went into the half-time break with a one-goal lead after an impressive first half performance and it didn’t take long after the restart for them to double their lead.
Everton started the second half as they had ended the first and when Dickson Etuhu tripped Jack Rodwell at the edge of the penalty are Louis Saha thundered a low drive through the Fulham wall and into the bottom corner.
It took the second goal to spur the visitors into action and Fulham responded with a good spell of attacking football.
The introduction of substitute Bobby Zamora helped signal a Fulham revival and when Damien Duff broke down the left, the Irishman’s excellent cross found Zamora on the edge of the penalty area.
The striker passed to Clint Dempsey who unleashed a powerful shot which flew past Tim Howard and into the bottom corner to hand Fulham a lifeline.
Mark Hughes' side continued to push on for an equaliser but were unable to break down a determined Everton defence.
The home side almost got a third when Phil Jagielka’s headed a Baines corner goalwards but Salcido was on hand with his second goal-line clearance of the game.
David Moyes was handed another big injury blow in the 88th minute when goalscorer Saha went down after challenging for a header and the striker had to be stretchered from the field in some pain after an awkward landing.
Despite Fulham’s best efforts in five minutes of stoppage time, Everton held on for an important three points that moved them into the top eight of the table and leaving Fulham just three points clear of the relegation zone.
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