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West Ham United
26 December 2012
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: P. Dowd
• Attendance: 25700
D. Berbatov 8'
R. Lambert 85'
That's that, then, from me. Thanks for joining me for this match and keep an eye on Goal.com for reaction from this and every other Boxing Day fixture. Until next time!
Fulham have now won only one match in 11 and it showed in the second half. Cautious, they surrendered the initiative almost immediately after the break. Southampton, meanwhile, might have gone on to win the game if they had been more proactive in making changes.
Fulham largely won a first half in which Southampton were disappointing and the opposite was true of the second, with neither side reaching their fluent peak. Dimitar Berbatov pounced on some poor defending inside 10 minutes but Rickie Lambert buried a penalty when Chris Baird handballed near the end.
FULL-TIME: FULHAM 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON. It's a fair result.
90' + 4'
Jose Fonte does indeed launch it but Mark Schwarzer claims through the mass of bodies.
90' + 4'
An opportunity for Southampton to launch a free kick up now as John Arne Riise concedes it just inside his own half. Meanwhile, Saints replace Gaston Ramirez with Guly Do Prado.
90' + 3'
90' + 3'
All kinds of frantic here as neither side can quite seize a final chance out of the midfield melee.
90' + 2'
Giorgos Karagounis' misplaced pass gives it back to Southampton.
90' + 1'
Four minutes of stoppage time announced and Steve Sidwell is SO CLOSE! Some sloppy defending from Southampton and the midfielder gets it on the edge of the area, thumping a shot millimetres past the top corner. Oh my.
Fulham come forward with Kerim Frei as the game turns frantic - both sides look threatening enough to grab a late winner. The Cottagers are broken down this time, though.
Goodness, this is close. Mark Schwarzer just - only just - recovers to pluck Gaston Ramirez's imaginative effort off the line!
Dimitar Berbatov is so close to taking the lead again as Fulham get acorner and work it towards him at the far post. Prods just wide.
Penalty Goal Rickie Lambert
GOAL! FULHAM 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON! Rickie Lambert does not miss penalties. His record is immense and adds to it here, powering it into the corner. Mark Schwarzer gets close but the power is too much for him to do anything.
Yellow Card Philippe Senderos
PENALTY TO SOUTHAMPTON! Chris Baird handles the ball as Saints take a corner. It's Philippe Senderos' fault for conceding the corner, his terrible attempted clearance putting Fulham in trouble.
Morgan Schneiderlin does well to cover for Luke Shaw as he lets Bryan Ruiz see too much of the ball. The midfielder intervenes as the Costa Rican looks to combine with Berbatov in the box.
This game is going in exactly the direction which Fulham would prefer. It's scrappy and dull. Southampton need to push.
Rickie Lambert is annoyed after being judged to have pushed Senderos on the edge of the area. He did do it and he didn't need to, already having the space.
And finally a change for the Saints. It's the obvious one - Jay Rodriguez is on for Steven Davis. Fulham, meanwhile, make their final alteration as Giorgos Karagounis replaces Hugo Rodallega.
Ooh! A good chance for Southampton and it would have been a really lovely goal. A series of volleys, Jose Fonte flicking on a ball from Luke Shaw, culminate in Rickie Lambert angling his strike just over.
Yellow Card J. Riise
John Arne Riise concedes a free kick and a booking for what looks like repeated fouling but Gaston Ramirez's delivery from the right flank fails to beat the first man. A real waste.
A fine tackle from Steve Sidwell wins back possession in the centre of midfield for Fulham.
A bit naughty from Jason Puncheon as he digs his arm a bit into Mark Schwarzer, the two jostling to take a high ball after Rickie Lambert knocks it back over his own head in the area. The goalkeeper takes a few moments to get treatment.
Southampton really look like they could do with an extra body up front in place of one of their midfield trio as they battle unsuccessfully to make something happen.
Fulham have a corner after the awkward wind means that Jose Fonte can't get a hold of a header from Schwarzer's goal kick. Strange one and the Cottagers threaten again at the near post from the corner but Kelvin Davis eventually gets hold of it.
Ashkhan Dejagah is the man to make way for Frei - his last action is to drag a snaphot just a fraction wide from across goal on the right. Kelvin Davis had it covered, though.
In fact, it looks like the home side are about to bring on Kerim Frei. On the pitch, Gaston Ramirez is outmuscled but the rejuvenated Puncheon causes more trouble. It comes to nothing though.
The game quietens slightly. It looks like the Saints are rearranging for a possible substitution.
Jason Puncheon has moved into the middle and is really testing Philippe Senderos' marking ability. So far, the Swiss is failing the test. He's lucky that the winger can't quite get control of the ball in behind and Schwarzer takes.
Fulham now look like a side who have only won one of their last 10 matches.
Ashkan Dejagah scampers down the right flank again but can't keep the ball in play as Fulham now prod tentatively on the counter.
Southampton are knocking on the door! Jason Puncheon is offside by the slightest of margins after leaving Philippe Senderos for dead.
Vital defensive work by Chris Baird! Jack Cork and Steven Davis, of all people, combine in the Fulham penalty area and nearly put the Northern Irishman through before the ex-Saint just nips it away from his feet from only a couple of metres out!
Southampton come forward against but Nathaniel Clyne's cross is intercepted and it descends into another midfield battle. The rain is back.
Ashkan Dejagah wastes a great chance! Luke Shaw has impressed today but does poorly here as he miscontrols and allows the winger to get past him not once but twice. The Iranian, however, spears his shot comfortably wide.
Another flash of a chance for Saints as Steven Davis pulls just off Steve Sidwell and, from a tight-ish angle, nods wide. Danger from Nigel Adkins' men in this second half.
The rain has stopped at Craven Cottage and Southampton look much better for it.
Gaston Ramirez perks up a bit. Having swapped flanks with Jason Puncheon, the Uruguayan lifts a probing pass over the defence and into Rickie Lambert's pass but the striker can't bring it down. If he had - and he could certainly have done better - he would have been clean through.
Dimitar Berbatov falls flat on his back as a hugely optimistic ball is walloped his way from deep in midfield. He's human after all.
Jason Puncheon fires a shot only just wide of the far post in a positive start for Southampton. Mark Schwarzer wouldn't have got there - maybe the winger should have done better with it.
We're off for the second half - there's one change at the break, with Bryan Ruiz on for Alex Kacaniklic. No surprise to see the Costa Rican involved but a little odd that the Swede was removed. Despite his final ball varying, he carried plenty of threat.
In the reverse fixture in October, the home side also led 1-0 at half-time - Jose Fonte's first of two that day. It then swung away to 2-1 for Fulham before the Portuguese squared it at the death. Something similar on the cards?
Southampton certainly look like they could do with a change in shape at the break - the introduction of Jay Rodriguez or Emmanuel Mayuka to combine more closely with Rickie Lambert, perhaps. Martin Jol's message to Fulham will likely be "more of the same" - pressure on the flanks and crosses towards the uncertain Kelvin Davis.
HALF-TIME: Fulham 1-0 Southampton. A deserved lead for the Cottagers after an opening 25 minutes in which they bossed the game completely. Dimitar Berbatov pounced after Kelvin Davis touched Ashkan Dejagah's cross into his path and has, for better or worse, likely produced the enduring image of the game with his "Keep calm and pass me the ball" T-shirt. Saints have come back into it, though, with Luke Shaw a standout for his endeavour and work-rate coming forward from left-back.
45' + 1'
The two teams play out one minute of stoppage time, Alex Kacaniklic hitting a right-footed effort a long way over from about 25 yards.
Fulham have a free kick just inside the Southampton half as a pretty much 50-50 tussle is called against Jason Puncheon. Dimitar Berbatov battles from it just outside the area but the ball is lost.
Luke Shaw continues to barrage forwards - the young left-back is really impressing here after a quiet start. Nothing comes of it but he's been Southampton's best player in this first half.
The fouls are just starting to tot up for Dimitar Berbatov here...
Jason Puncheon's cross from the left is picked up by Mark Schwarzer - there was no red shirt near enough.
Fulham come forward with an advanced throw-in, patroling the Saints half, but they give it away and Luke Shaw embarks on a long run out from left-back into the sparsely populated Fulham half. He keeps working and forces a throw from a good position.
Finally some real pressure by Southampton and it's thanks really to John Arne Riise's horrific failure of concentration, expecting a ball to roll out for a goal kick and just stopping his run, allowing Saints to play it into the box. There's a mess of positioning but eventually Jason Puncheon is intercepted excellently by a fine Brede Hangeland tackle.
Chris Baird is on hand to clear as Rickie Lambert crosses from the right - he's having to drift wide in order to make things happen.
A delightful touch from Dimitar Berbatov to bring the ball down from high as the two teams battle it out in midfield. Southampton just shaping up a tad but need to keep it to just 1-0 at half-time, you sense.
Morgan Schneiderlin finds himself with the ball outside the Fulham area but, with conditions poor and defendings encroaching, he can't do much more than scuff it wide.
Maya Yoshida tries to play a clever forward pass from defence but it's cut out and Fulham have it again. John Arne Riise crosses from the left and Kelvin Davis just - JUST - keeps the ball from going over the line. Not a picture of control, that.
Southampton just shaping up slightly in midfield with extra pressure - Morgan Schneiderlin snides in more as a distraction than an actual tackle but, with possession won, Gaston Ramirez smacks an aimless cross/shot into nowhere.
Luke Shaw tussles with Ashkan Dejagah on the right flank - the Iranian is getting the better of that duel so far but the teenager is coming into the game a bit more.
Fulham remain in control of this game. Southampton just can't get enough support for Rickie Lambert up front - this new formation is not working for them at all.
Once again, a corner for Fulham as John Arne Riise delivers ... it's not far away as he seeks Berbatov at the near post but the ball is eventually bundled away. Kelvin Davis looks a bit shaky in goal.
Alex Kacaniklic wins another corner but Southampton defend resolutely. Dimitar Berbatov then fouls Jason Puncheon with a mistimed challenge on the touchline. He needs to be more careful than that after his T-shirt booking.
Southampton want a free kick when Steven Davis goes down in the middle of the pitch but none given - they get one on the other side, however, moments later but use it to give Nathaniel Clyne the ball. The full-back loops a very high cross away from danger and into Schwarzer's hands.
Organised defence from Fulham as Brede Hangeland sees a semi-threatening cross into the hands of Mark Schwarzer.
Finally a shot for Southampton! Gaston Ramirez works his way into the box and goes to ground - there's no suggestion of a penalty but it comes to Jack Cork outside the area and he thwacks a powerful shot towards goal. Mark Schwarzer is behind it all the way, though, and saves.
Kacaniklic remains at the centre of the action as he tries to slip in John Arne Riise down the inside-left, close to the goal, but Kelvin Davis arrives to snap the ball up. Just not enough cover from the midfield on the flanks for the visitors.
Another cross comes in from Alex Kacaniklic on the left and he beats Nathaniel Clyne to do so - this time, however, Kelvin Davis takes it comfortably.
Dimitar Berbatov probably should have a second goal. Again Fulham have too much space down the flanks and Alex Kacaniklic delivers a good cross to the Bulgarian on the penalty spot but, under little pressure, he heads wide.
Marginal offside call against Rickie Lambert as Saints try a ball over the top. On replay, it was probably the wrong decision but it would have been hard to see the striker actually reaching the ball in time.
Jason Puncheon does very well to evade two defenders at once on the Southampton right but his cross is disappointing and Fulham have a goal kick.
Having won and then wasted a corner, Southampton regroup with a throw-in in their own half.
Celebrating that goal, Dimitar Berbatov was shown a yellow card for removing his Fulham shirt to reveal a T-shirt underneath, declaring: "Keep calm and pass me the ball". Yes, really.
Yellow Card D. Berbatov
Goal D. Berbatov
GOAL! FULHAM 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON! It's a bad one for Southampton to concede as Ashkan Dejagah is allowed far too much space advancing down the right flank to cross. When he does, it's just slightly too far in front of Kelvin Davis but the goalkeeper stretches for it anyway, just giving it enough of a touch for set up Berbatov for the easy finish.
Rickie Lambert chests it down to Steven Davis as Southampton look to build an attack but Jason Puncheon's pass forward towards the big striker is too heavy and it falls apart.
Alex Kacaniklic draws two Southampton defenders by the corner flag as he wins a throw-in - and from it Dimitar Berbatov prompts a cross for Hugo Rodallega, who's beaten in the air as he rises on the penalty spot.
Chris Baird, a former Southampton player of course, is forced to clear out wide from just on the edge of his own goalline, after a poor backpass from midfield puts Fulham in trouble.
First chance! Hugo Rodallega dribbles down the inside-left channel and plays in Steve Sidwell towards the centre. Firing low from just outside the area, the midfielder only just misses the target with Kelvin Davis beaten.
Maya Yoshida thwacks a clearance out on the right of Fulham's half as the two teams find their feet early on.
And we're off!
Final Fulham free kick on the left - HEADER WIDE FROM BERBATOV! That should be that.
Out come the teams onto the pitch at a slightly gloomy-looking Craven Cottage...
Thankfully, there's no suggestion that this game will be delayed at all - the London Underground strikes that postponed Arsenal v West Ham today have caused such travel chaos that QPR v West Brom has been put back to 15.15GMT.
Fulham know how to score - they have netted at least once in all but one of their last 12 fixtures - but have only won one of their last 10 games. An opening for Southampton, perhaps?
When these two sides met at St Mary's Stadium in October it was a thoroughly enjoyable game, with the momentum switching sides more than once before Jose Fonte rescued a point for the Saints with a last-gasp header to draw 2-2.
Nigel Adkins' men, meanwhile, are still without captain Adam Lallana, which is a big miss from their attack. Their formation looks to have altered slightly from their usual one as a result, with a central midfield three and Gaston Ramirez playing wider on the left than usual, though he will likely interchange with Jason Puncheon.
Now then, the big news for the hosts is that Bryan Ruiz is back on the bench and you'd expect him to get some game time, with Martin Jol recently going on record with his concerns over Dimitar Berbatov getting burned out. The Costa Rican will likely not be a welcome sight for Southampton.
Southampton subs: Boruc, Hooiveld, Richardson, Ward-Prowse, Guly, Mayuka, Rodriguez
SOUTHAMPTON STARTING XI: K Davis; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Cork, S Davis; Puncheon, Lambert, Ramirez
Fulham subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Karagounis, Briggs, Hughes, Ruiz, Frei
FULHAM STARTING XI: Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise; Dejagah, Sidwell, Baird, Kacanikic; Berbatov, Rodallega
Good afternoon one and all - welcome to Goal.com's live play-by-play commentary of Fulham v Southampton in the Premier League's Boxing Day extravaganza. I'm George Ankers and I'll be taking you through this one. Team news coming up...
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