The Merseyside club ended the home side’s nine-game unbeaten run at Craven Cottage this season, scoring two late goals after a Bryan Ruiz strike looked to have leveled it
Everton won on the road for the first time this season as Fulham were stunned by two late strikes from Jack Rodwell and Louis Saha after an impressive debut goal from Bryan Ruiz looked to have grabbed a point.
Cottagers boss Martin Jol made eight changes from the side that lost 1-0 at Wisla Krakow in the Europa League on Thursday night. Toffees manager David Moyes, on the other hand, made three alterations to his starting line-up – Phil Neville, Royston Drenthe and Apostolos Vellios coming into the side that lost 3-1 at Chelsea last weekend.
It was Everton who began the game in a more fluent fashion and they were rewarded with a goal just 2 minutes into the match.
Fulham captain Danny Murphy was careless on the ball, Jack Rodwell capitalised and did a neat one-two with Greek striker Vellios before laying off to Drenthe, on loan from Real Madrid, who smashed his strike left-footed into the bottom right-hand corner.
Everton continued to apply pressure after the goal, with their next chance coming on 11 minutes when a Leighton Baines cross from the right wing was headed over by omnipresent midfielder Rodwell.
Fulham started to spark to life soon after, but their chances were limited to long range strikes from Steve Sidwell and former Liverpool left-back John Arne Riise.
Drenthe was a threat all half, the Dutch winger’s peppering of the goal testing goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
At the other end, Tim Howard made a brilliant save to prevent Clint Dempsey drawing the Cottagers level 25 minutes in.
The ex-Manchester United keeper was the hero for the away side not long after too, when towering Fulham centre-back Brede Hangeland’s header was dipping in until the American got his fingertips on the ball and tipped it over the bar.
Fulham continued to press and ended the half on top, Dempsey bending an 18-yard shot just wide of the right-hand post.
After the break the home side continued to hog possession, skipper Murphy and former Toffees forward Andy Johnson whipping in a number of crosses that suited their obvious aerial threat.
It took ten minutes for Everton to shift out of second gear but soon enough they were fighting for the ascendancy. Striker Louis Saha, who replaced the largely ineffective and isolated Apostolos Vellios early in the second half, was caught marginally offside after breaking clean through the back-line.
But it was Jol’s first substitution of the match which immediately altered the shape of the game – as Bryan Ruiz came on for Murphy to score his first goal for the club he joined on transfer deadline day from FC Twente.
The £10.6 million summer signing lobbed exquisitely from the left-hand side of the box over the defence and keeper Howard to draw the home side level with 32 minutes remaining.
However, the goal seemed to stifle the Fulham attack and it rallied the away side. Baines fired a free-kick over the bar, and Tim Cahill – who came off the bench to win the game in place of Neville – appeared to have been grappled to the floor in the box but no penalty was given.
Striker Saha, who replaced the largely ineffective and isolated Vellios early in the second half, forced Schwarzer to make a good save to prevent the team going behind again.
At the other end Fulham were hoping referee Lee Probert would point to the spot when defender Zdenek Grygera.
Everton were forced to defend frantically in the last few minutes before stoppage time, Phil Jagielka blocking Johnson’s shot before Bobby Zamora’s cross back into the box is hit by Ruiz at the Toffees keeper, and eventually cleared by Baines.
Seconds after Zamora inexplicably blasts over when gifted an open goal, substitute Saha gave David Moyes the much-needed victory against the run of play, dinking his shot into the bottom corner when one-on-one with the Fulham shot-stopper.
with the hosts cleary stunned, Rodwell scored Everton’s third in stoppage time to give the away side only their second win at Craven Cottage in eleven attempts.