Fulham 2-1 Sunderland: Dempsey & Dembele on target as Jol's men leapfrog Liverpool

Cottagers continue rise up the table at the expense of the Black Cats, whose run without a league win stretches to seven games despite Phil Bardsley strike in the first half
Fulham moved above Liverpool into eighth place in the Premier League table as they beat Sunderland at Craven Cottage thanks to strikes from Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele.

The American international gave the Cottagers the lead with a splendid strike from a free-kick for his 18th league goal of the season.

Martin O’Neill’s side drew level when Phil Bardsley fired a powerful effort past Mark Schwarzer after a good attacking move.

This parity lasted only seconds, however, as Dembele carried the ball from his own half before shooting at goal, and a deflection took the ball into the net to give Fulham all three points as both sides misfired in the second half.

Martin Jol made one change to the Fulham side which beat Liverpool in midweek, as Mahamadou Diarra replaced Alexander Kacaniklic in the starting line-up.

Sunderland made three changes from the side which drew 2-2 with Bolton last week. Simon Mignolet replaced Craig Gordon in goal, while Ji Dong-Won and Craig Gardner came in for Fraizer Campbell and Nicklas Bendtner, who both dropped to the bench.

The game started as a scrappy affair, with neither side able to maintain possession for lengthy periods of the opening 10 minutes and chances few and far between.

However, Fulham took the lead through Dempsey, whose magnificent free-kick curled into the top corner from 25 yards after Lee Cattermole had fouled the Diarra outside the area.

The Black Cats responded and nearly got an equaliser through Stephane Sessegnon after a good move down the right, the 27-year-old skilfully beating Brede Hangeland before firing at goal but his shot was excellently saved by Mark Schwarzer.

Martin Jol’s side were beginning to take control of the game as the half wore on and could have gone further ahead if not for a superb block by Michael Turner as he denied Pavel Pogrebnyak, whose volley looked destined for the net after being found by Damien Duff’s pinpoint cross.

Despite Fulham’s dominance in possession, O’Neill’s side got an equaliser through Bardsley, who blasted a shot into the bottom corner after good build-up play down the left between Jack Colback and Ji  found the full-back unmarked on the edge of the area.

Sunderland’s joy was short-lived, however, as the Cottagers regained the lead just seconds after conceding.

Dembele drove at the Black Cats defence before firing a left-footed shot from 20 yards into the top corner, with the ball taking a slight deflection on its way past Mignolet.

The Cottagers came out confident in the second half and nearly added to their lead five minutes after the restart, but Dempsey’s goal-bound shot from the edge of the area was cleared off the line by Colback with Mignolet beaten.

Jol’s side were upping the ante looking to kill the game as Damien Duff raided down the right and cut inside Bardsley before firing a vicious left-footed shot at goal which was well saved by Mignolet, who was quickly on his feet to scoop up the rebound.

The Wearsiders were trying to press the home side to get back into the game but lacked that final bit of quality in the final third. This was typified when Nicklas Bendtner fired a shot wide of the post after being put through on goal by Sessegnon's lovely crossfield ball.

Sunderland should have drawn level in the 77th minute when Bendtner nodded the ball into Campbell’s path six yards from goal, but the England man could only fire wide of the post, much to the frustration of his team-mates.

The Black Cats pressed for an equaliser but were unable to find a way through the Cottagers defence, which put them at risk from Fulham counter-attacks which Dembele nearly took advantage of, but he could only fire wide when one-on-one with Mignolet.

Sunderland came close late on through Campbell again but his effort was well saved by Schwarzer as the home side were able to hold out to secure the win.

Follow the Premier League LIVE on Goal.com:
Commentaries, Stats, Player Ratings and much more,
Visit Goal.com Live Scores!