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February 23, 2013
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: L. Probert
• Attendance: 25458
D. Berbatov 45'+
That's it from Craven Cottage. Thanks for joining us here at GOAL.com for the live play by play coverage. It's finished Fulham 1-0 Stoke. Have a good weekend and see you next week!
Another big performance from Bryan Ruiz who was a constant threat to Stoke all game. For Stoke, Tony Pulis has to go back to the drawing board. The only positive for him today was Marc Wilson's comeback from injury. He'll also be hoping the injury to Etherington isn't serious.
Dimitar Berbatov will grab the headlines for his wonderful, match-winning strike (and rightly so). But credit has to go to Mark Schwarzer for keeping Fulham in the game. The big Australian 'keeper kept Crouch at bay after an error by Senderos allowed him in, as well as saving Jon Walter's penalty.
A disappointing day for Tony Pulis' men as they leave West London empty handed yet again. Martin Jol will be delighted with his team's performance today as they take the well-deserved three points.
90' + 5'
The full-time whistle goes as Fulham grab a deserved and much needed three points.
90' + 4'
We're in the dying seconds as Shotton launches a long throw. His cross is blocked and it's a corner for Stoke.
90' + 2'
Dimitar Berbatov is set to be replaced by Mladen Petric. The Bulgarian earns a standing ovation for his wonder strike that looks to have won Fulham the game, as he saunters off the pitch.
There's going to be four minutes of added time.
Stoke are trying but they're running out of ideas and it looks like it's going to be Fulham's day. Glenn Whelan drives the Potters forward but his through ball for Jerome is overhit and goes out of play for a goal kick.
Damien Duff is replaced by Emanuelson with five minutes remaining plus stoppage time. Fulham are close to seeing this one through as Stoke really don't look like troubling the scorers today.
Stoke pressing for an equaliser with just under 10 minutes remaining. Nzonzi's pass evades Jerome as Stoke come forward.
Substitution for Fulham as Karagounis is replaced by Chris Baird.
Fulham win a corner after some fantastic footwork from Bryan Ruiz. He tricked his way past Shawcross and, to his credit, stayed on his feet when he could have gone down to try and win a penalty. His cross had just a bit too much on it for a flat-footed Berbatov. Riise fires in the rebound but it's deflected wide of the goal.
Huth and Sendeross scrap for no apparent reason really. It was all a bit pointless, Fulham are in the lead and don't need to rush in taking their free-kick.
Yellow Card Ryan Shawcross
Shawcross is booked for a late tackle on Karagounis. The referee played advantage and then went back to award the yellow card to the Stoke captain.
Karagounis and Dejagah link well as Fulham press for a second. They're retaining possession much better than Stoke, despite Tony Pulis' audible screams on the touchline.
Stoke make a change as Crouch is replaced by Kenwyne Jones.
Walter's cleverly goes down under a challenge from Dejagah, relieving the pressure on his teammates as Fulham threaten yet again.
Fulham go close once again as Riise fires a left footed strike with the inside of his boot over the bar. The left-back found himself in the box after easily tricking his way past Ryan Shotton.
Fulham attack once more, Riise's cross is cleared for a corner after Ruiz's delightful through ball found the left-back's surging run. The resulting corner is easily claimed by Begovic though.
A warning to Fulham not to rest on their laurels as Brek Shea fires a left footed half volley just past Schwarzer's post after being found by a delightful cross-field ball by Glenn Whelan.
Dimitar Berbatov is stealing the show with his skill today. The Bulgarian almost makes it two with some beautiful control that mesmerises the Stoke defence but his volley is saved well by Begovic and the Bosnian goalkeeper is able to keep hold of the ball as Ruiz attempts to pounce on the rebound.
Missed Penalty Jonathan Walters
Jon Walters steps up to take, firing it low towards Schwarzer's right but the Australian goalkeeper makes a great save and keeps his side in the game. Still 1-0 Fulham, and Dejagah is one relieved man.
Penalty save Mark Schwarzer
It is Whelan who takes it but it hits the wall and goes out for a throw down the right side. Ryan Shotton prepares the long throw looking for Walters. The striker flicks it on towards the far post and Shea tried to put it in the box but it hits the hand of Dejagah. The ref points to the spot. Penalty!
Free kick on the edge of the area for Stoke after some good passing play from the Potters as they were driven forward by Glenn Whelan. The three standing over it are Wilson, Huth and Whelan. But it looks like it's going to be Whelan.
Substitution for Stoke and Cameron Jerome comes on to replace Geoff Cameron. Can Jerome inspire the Potters?
Almost a disaster for Fulham as Senderos tries to hold off Crouch following Begovic's long goal kick. The Swiss defender fails miserably, however, and Crouch's strike is saved by the alert Schwarzer. Fulham almost threw their lead away then.
We're back underway at Craven Cottage. Fulham attacking almost immediately, beginning it where they left off.
Seeing replays at half time and Stoke's Steven Nzonzi is a very lucky boy, despite his broken nose. He took a swipe at Fulham's Bryan Ruiz and received a yellow card, but it could and perhaps should have been a red.
Martin Jol will be the happier of the two managers as the teams go in at half time. His side deservedly lead through Berbatov's goal and it is one that will be shown again and again I'm sure. Stoke are lacking tempo and their midfield are too deep to latch onto the headers that Peter Crouch is winning. Tony Pulis has a lot of work to do with his players if they're to get something out of this game.
45' + 3'
The whistle goes for half time and Fulham deservedly lead at the break thanks to Berbatov's outstanding strike. It came from some good work down the right wing as the impressive Riether took on Stoke's Mark Wilson before firing the cross into the box. Huth's headed clearance lands perfectly onto the right foot of Berbatov. 1-0 Fulham.
45' + 2'
Goal Dimitar Berbatov
GOAL FOR FULHAM. It's nothing more than they deserve and it's that man Dimitar Berbatov. A superb right footed volley from inside the box swerves its way past a helpless Begovic and into the top right corner.
Some nice interchanges between Ruiz and Sidwell see the latter fire a powerful strike wide of Begovic's right post. Fulham look threatening but they're just lacking that final bit of quality on goal.
Some dogged defending from Stoke prevents Bryan Ruiz's pass finding the clever run of Damien Duff. Fulham pressing for a goal as we approach half-time and, on the run of play, it would be deserved.
Stoke's first meaningful attack of the day is thwarted thanks to a disappointing cross from Jon Walters. It was initial good work by Peter Crouch to find his teammate, but Walters was unable to return the favour.
You can hear Tony Pulis shouting encouragement towards debutant Brek Shea as he presses Brede Hangeland down the left wing for the Potters. The referee deems Shea's tenacity as foul play and awards the Fulham captain a free kick.
Yellow Card Marc Wilson
Free kick to Fulham on the right wing. Ruiz takes it and swings the ball in towards Begovic, who is slightly out of position. Shawcross manages to get his head to the ball and the Stoke skipper puts it out for a corner.
A loose pass from Nzonzi almost allows Fulham in as Ruiz puts Berbatov through on goal. The Bulgarian attempts to trick his way past Huth but is unable to beat the German centre-back, and the chance goes begging - much to the relief of Steven Nzonzi!
Fulham working well down the wings with Riise and Riether causing trouble on both sides. The former forces another corner but the delivery, again, isn't the greatest and Stoke are able to clear.
Confirmation that Stoke's Matthew Etherington has a back injury, which was why he was replaced. There's not much between these two sides in the league table but Fulham look the more like scoring so far.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis is forced to make a change to his side. Etherington has gone off with what can only be an injury and Brek Shea replaces him making his Premier League debut.
Yellow Card Steven N'Zonzi
Karagounis stands over the ball as Fulham line up a free kick. The midfielder hits it well and forces Begovic to tip the ball over the bar for another Fulham corner. Great save!
The home side are getting themselves into the game now, spurred on by the crowd. They've dominated possesion in the last 10 minutes and have gone close to scoring twice within the space of a minute. Duff's left footed effort was bravely blocked by defender Robert Huth - hitting him square on the chest. Whilst John Arne Riise's bursting run through the middle of the field saw Begovic make a good save down to his right.
It's another corner to Fulham as Begovic is unable to prevent the ball from going out of play. Once again though, Duff's delivery isn't the greatest and Stoke manage to clear with little difficulty.
Fulham with a chance to put the ball in the box as Duff readies himself for the corner. The delivery is poor, however, and Begovic can claim the ball easily.
There's a break in play as Nzonzi goes down from a challenge by Berbatov with what appears to be a broken nose. The Stoke midfielder receives treatment and makes his way back onto the pitch.
Yellow Card Bryan Ruiz
Fulham score but it's been disallowed! Duff's free kick evades the Stoke defenders and is slapped into the net by Ruiz. The referee sees and correctly awards a yellow card to the Fulham forward.
Fulham go close as Berbatov fires just over Begovic's goal. Some good work by Riether on the right wing saw him fire in a dangerous cross towards the Bulgarian striker, but he couldn't apply the finish.
Stoke look dangerous here as they begin to get a foothold in the game. Walters beats the offside trap as he makes his way into the box down the right hand side. He looks for Etherington in the middle but his low cross is parried wide by Schwarzer.
Referee Lee Probert blows for a free kick for Stoke in a dangerous position. Etherington is standing over the ball, with five to aim for. He looks for Crouch but Senderos gets the ball away as far as Glenn Whelan on the edge of the area. But the Irishman's strike goes over the bar.
Bryan Ruiz with a long range effort is the first attempt on goal of the game but it goes high and wide.
Neither side able to retain possession in this opening two minutes. Stoke looking for the long ball to Crouch and he's winning the headers against Hangeland and Senderos but is unable to find his teammates.
And we're underway here at Craven Cottage.
Stoke's Mark Wilson returns to the side at left-back just four months after breaking his leg against Sunderland.
It's Dimitar Berbatov's 200th Premier League appearance today and Fulham will be hoping he can fire them closer to safety.
Just a couple of minutes until kick off now as the teams make their way onto the pitch. The pre-match handshakes take place as Stoke manager Tony Pulis makes his way to the dugout.
And Stoke line-up as follows: Begovic; Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Walters, Whelan, Cameron, Nzonzi, Etherington; Crouch On the bench for the Potters today: Sorensen, Whitehead, Kightly, Shea, Adam, Jones, Jerome
The teams are in, starting with Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Dejagah, Karagounis, Sidwell, Duff, Ruiz, Berbatov. Subs: Etheridge, Baird, Hughes, Emanuelson, Kacaniklic, Petric, Rodallega.
As ever, if you wish to get involved this afternoon and tell me your thoughts and predictions then jump on Twitter and tweet me - @matty_hill Team news is on the way!
Both sides have been inconsistent so far this season but Fulham have a good home record against Stoke in the Premier League, the Cottagers have won three of the last four meetings in London. The Potters ended their six game winless streak with a 2-1 victory over Reading last week whilst Fulham were held to a goalless draw by Norwich.
Good afternoon and welcome to GOAL's live coverage of Fulham vs Stoke at Craven Cottage. It's Matt Hill here bringing you the action from the Premier League's early kick off.
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