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Brighton & Hove Albion
West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
December 29, 2012
• 10:00 AM
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: A. Marriner
• Attendance: 25700
B. Ruiz 56'
D. Graham 19'
J. de Guzmán 52'
Poor old David Stockdale is going to take all the headlines. The young goalkeeper, deputising for the injured Schwarzer, made two crucial errors, both of which were punished by a clinical Swansea attack. Ruiz, was bright on his return, and offered some hope with a second half goal but the visitors hung on to claim another well earned three points in London.
FULL-TIME: Fulham 1-2 Swansea
90' + 3'
Shout for a penalty! Graham holds up the ball before sliding it in for the on rushing Rangel. The Swans' defender is bundled over in the box by Senderos but the referee waves play on!
90' + 2'
Free kick to Fulham on the right side is taken by Ruiz but Berbatov can't time his jump and the ball hits him rather than the other way around. He walks off with a look of resignation.
Fulham still continue to press for an equaliser but they are being restricted to crosses from deep, and the quality of those deliveries has been abject all afternoon. Four minutes added on!
Chance! A deep cross from Briggs falls to Hangeland's feet at the far post, but the big Norwegian's low cross is played behind all of this team-mates and Swansea survive the danger.
It's Swansea who are finishing strongly here. De Guzman earns and then takes a free kick. The Dutchman swings it into the area but it floats harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Stockdale keeps Fulham in the game! Angel Rangel flies forward and lets rip with a right-footed shot curling away from goal, but the Fulham goalkeeper does brilliantly to touch it past the post.
Martin Jol, meanwhile, for some reason which I cannot fathom, has hauled off Kerim Frei and brought on Phillipe Senderos. You work that one out.
Pass master Leon Britton is thrown on by Laudrup as we enter the final ten minutes of the match, the idea seems to be - retain the ball and keep the hosts chasing shadows.
Yellow Card Kemy Agustien
Free kick for Fulham right on the edge of the box is struck by substitute Rodallega, but his effort is his straight into the visitor's wall. The home fans are beginning to gets restless.
Super chance for Swansea to kill the game! Danny Graham times his run to perfection and is found by a long ball from De Guzman. The forward takes a decent touch and fires at goal with his favoured left-foot but is denied by Stockdale, who gets down low to turn it past the post.
Yellow Card Steve Sidwell
Pass, pass, pass. Fulham are doing their best Swansea impression now, knocking the ball from left to right, trying to get the visitor's defence out of position. Berbatov continues to berate his team-mates as they fail to find any quality deliveries into the front line.
The rain is now lashing down at Craven Cottage as Fulham pile on continuous pressure on the Swansea defence. The Swans, to their credit, have come equipped with brollies and are currently weathering the west London storm!
GOAL RULED OUT! Fulham think they are level as Berbatov turns in the rebound after Karagounis forced Tremmel into a smart stop, but the Bulgarian looks up to see Sian Massey flag for offside!
CLOSE! Tremmel makes another great save to deny young Karim Frei a memorable goal. The winger drifted in from the left and struck a sweet volley at goal only to be denied by the Swans' shot-stopper.
Fulham catch Swansea sleeping with a quick corner, but Ruiz is the only player awake for the hosts aswell! He chips a cross into the area and there isn't a single team-mate in the vicinity. Berbatov, meanwhile, is tying up his shoelaces...
Graham shows good energy to overlap Hernandez, and the Spaniard duly slides the striker in on goal but Stockdale does well to deny him a clear shot on goal. The Fulham keeper then flaps at the resulting corner but the hosts survive the danger.
Frei's cross from the right flank takes a deflection and almost catches out Tremmel at his near post. Fulham are well on top now, but Swansea are notoriously dangerous on the counterattack, Jol will be wary.
What a turnaround! Swansea are hanging on to their lead now! A couple of herculean blocks keep the visitors head, first Williams and then Monk do brilliantly to protect Tremmel from a torrent of shots from Berbatov and Ruiz.
Goal Bryan Ruiz
GOAL! Bryan Ruiz, it had to be him, pulls one back for the hosts! There is an air of controversy about it, though, as Swansea players appeal for an offside. Nevertheless, Berbatov saw his volley blocked by Williams, only for Ruiz to turn the ball home from the six-yard box. It appears to touch Sascha Reither on the way in, who looks marginally offside but referee awards the goal. Game on!
Brilliant stop from Tremmel! He denies Ruiz once again as he fired Berbatov's knock down on target, the Swans' keeper does really well to maintain the visitor's two-goal advantage.
Assist Pablo Hernández
Goal Jonathan De Guzmán
GOAL! Oh dear, David Stockdale has just gifted Swansea a second goal. His clearance is hit hard at Hangeland's feet who has no chance of controlling the ball. Hernandez pounces on the loose ball, plays in De Guzman and the Dutchman slots past the hapless keeper in clinical fashion. Martin Jol's face...
But Fulham have a chance to change that as they earn a corner, but Ruiz's corner is glanced past the post by Sidwell. His contact, if anything, was too firm on the ball.
Goal.com's Ewan Roberts has served up a great stat: "Swansea are the only side in the Premier League to have won every game in which they have scored the first goal. Doesn't bode well for Martin Jol's men..."
Chance! Swansea shot-stopper Tremmel is rooted to the spot as he watches Bryan Ruiz's curling effort fly just past his far post. Superb effort from Ruiz, it's given the home fans a lift at the beginning of the second period.
One change for the visitors at the break, Ki Sung-Yueng replaces Wayne Routledge.
Swansea take the kick-off and we are underway for the second half!
Half-time at Craven Cottage and something tells me Martin Jol will have a few choice words for his team, who trail to a goal from Danny Graham. Fulham have had more of the ball but have rarely tested Tremmel in the Swansea goal. Laudrup's side have executed their game plan perfectly, soaking up the hosts pressure before making their counterattacks count.
HALF-TIME: Fulham 0-1 Swansea
Riether has been a positive for Fulham in this first period, the full-back jets up the pitch before standing one up inside the area but no team-mate can get anywhere near his cross.
Swansea's defence back off Steve Sidwell until he is finally convinced to have a shot but the fiery-haired midfielder balloons his effort from range well over the bar.
Laudrup is sat in his seat with a look of satisfaction, while Jol is pacing up and down the touchling in a rather agitated manner.
This is better from Fulham. Their best spell of pressure so far, they are knocking on the door, but credit must be given to Williams and Monk who are defending like warriors out here. Berbatov, especially, has been very quiet by his standards.
Good save from Tremmel! Ruiz cut inside from the right flank to open up space for a left-footed shot. He catches it well but the Swans' keeper is equal to it, stopping it curling into the top corner.
Bit of a lull in proceedings here, so let's celebrate Graham's goal with a gem of a stat. The Swansea hitman has played 678 minutes without conceding a foul, more than any other Premier League player this season!
Yellow Card Georgios Karagounis
Corner for Fulham is taken this time by Ruiz but it's too close to Tremmel who punches clear. The hosts retain the ball but after a good minute or so of probing around the area, Karagounis takes out Dyer and gives the Swans some respite.
Moans and groans are now being heard at the Cottage as Fulham wastefully misplace a couple of passes in midfield. The home fans are getting restless, can't blame them, their side have only won one out their last 11 in the league.
If anyone is going to get Fulham back in the game it's more than likely to be Ruiz. Berbatov heads down Riether's cross for the Costa Rican but he fires an awkward volley over the bar. Decent chance, especially for someone with his technical ability.
Fulham earn a free kick in a central position about 25 yards from goal. Ruiz has a go at goal but his curling effort is both high and wide.
After ten minutes of basketball style end-to-end action, the game as settled down a tad. Fulham's confidence on the ball seems to have been drained out of them after going behind. They need to get Ruiz and Berbatov into the game.
Almost an instant reply from Fulham! Riether, who has been impressive so far, whips in an early cross towards the far post, and the incoming Frei fires his shot first time across goal, only missing the far post by a whisker!
Goal Danny Graham
GOAL! Danny Graham marks his return to the side with a goal! David Stockdale can only parry Dyer's initial shot across goal for Graham to acrobatically volley the rebound home! Michu who?
The visitors are now beginning to make an impression in this match. Dyer's long ball almost finds Graham in the box as Aaron Hughes makes a vital interception for the hosts.
Goal.com's Ewan Roberts reports from Craven Cottage: "Not many chances at Craven Cottage. Fulham have enjoyed more possession, but Swansea have looked dangerous on the break with the pace of Pablo Hernandez, Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer. Dimitar Berbatov attempted an overhead kick that bounced over the bar, but had Gerhard Tremmel rooted to the spot."
Corner for Swansea as Nathan Dyer's strike from the edge of the area is blocked by Briggs. De Guzman's delivery is decent but Monk catches Hangeland with a flailing elbow and gives away a free kick.
Fulham are defintely bossing this game now. Karagounis is having one of his better performances since arriving at Craven Cottage this summer, whilst Riether is providing a great outlet down the right flank for the home side.
Chance! Berbatov gets on the end of Sidwell's corner but his volley, under pressure, is hit straight into the ground and bounces over Tremmel and over the bar. The Bulgarian was inches away from giving the hosts an early lead.
Ruiz flights one in with everyone expecting the shot, but Berbatov and Hangeland can't quite get to the far post in time to turn in the cross. Decent opportunity to take the lead.
Free kick won by Ruiz about 20 yards from goal. The returning Costa Rica international has made a swift return to form after his injury, he looks in good shape.
Fulham apply some pressure on the Swans' defence now. Sidwell has a shot from the edge of the area but fails to find a gap through a wall of defenders.
Good break from Swansea! Dyer races up the pitch and feeds it into Danny Graham. The striker then finds Hernandez in space but his cross is deflected out for a corner. Sidwell clears from the De Guzman's delivery.
Berbatov tries to link up with Ruiz early on, his dinked pass is cut out by Garry Monk for Swansea.
Fulham take the kick-off and we are go go go!
The teams are emerging from the tunnel at Craven Cottage, it's a bitterly cold afternoon is west London, let us hope a cracking game of football can warm things up!
It's the final game of 2012 for two teams who can be thoroughly pleased with how the year has gone. Yet, after draws for both sides last time out, momentum is much needed going into 2013.
On the other hand, take away Dimitar Berbatov's goals from Fulham and they would only be three points worse off! But then again, the Cottagers have only won one of their last 11 Premier League matches.
Michu may miss his first Premier League match for Swansea on Saturday - without his goals Swansea would be in 16th rather than ninth place. To be fair, he has scored a fair few this season.
A few pre-match nuggets for you coming up...
The Cottagers have made six changes themselves, as Bryan Ruiz returns to the side and starts for Martin Jol behind Dimitar Berbatov, while Mark Schwarzer has been replaced in goal by David Stockdale.
Changes all round as both managers rotate their teams amid this congested period of fixtures. A total of 13 changes between both sides, with Michael Laudrup making seven changes to the side that drew with Reading on Boxing Day. Danny Graham starts up front in place of the injured Michu, while Angel Rangel also returns to action.
TEAM NEWS: Swansea: Tremmel; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Tiendalli; Agustien, de Guzman; Routledge, Dyer, Hernandez; Graham. SUbs: Vorm, Davies, Bartley, Britton, Ki, Shechter, Moore.
TEAM NEWS: Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Briggs; Dejagah, Karagounis, Sidwell, Frei; Ruiz; Berbatov. Subs: Etheridge, Kelly, Riise, Senderos, Baird, Richardson, Rodallega.
Good afternoon ladies and gents! Welcome to Goal.com’s play-by-play coverage of Fulham v Swansea from Craven Cottage LIVE! I’m Husmukh Kerai and I’ll be taking you through all the action as and when it happens.
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