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Premier League

  • August 18, 2012
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • Craven Cottage, London
  • Referee: M. Oliver
  • • Attendance: 25062
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Fulham 5-0 Norwich: Petric marks dream debut with a double as Hughton endures nightmare start

The Dempsey-less Cottagers begin their campaign with an easy win over Chris Hughton's Canaries, who will need to improve quickly if they're to avoid a relegation struggle.

A magnificent opening day performance from Fulham saw it run out 5-0 winners against at Craven Cottage, with debutant Mladen Petric bagging a brace against a dismal Norwich City.

Damien Duff and Petric had the hosts 2-0 up at halftime, before Petric, Alexander Kacaniklic and substitute Steve Sidwell completed the rout in the second half.

Martin Jol's side began the season without the wantaway American international Clint Dempsey amongst its number, but there were debuts for Croatian striker Mladen Petric - partnering Bryan Ruiz - and new right back Sascha Riether. Alexander Kacaniklic was also named in midfield.

Chris Hughton's Premier League debut as Norwich manager saw him hand debuts to new recruits Robert Snodgrass and defender Michael Turner, whilst left-back Marc Tierney returned for his first league match in nine months after injury.

The Canaries, with Grant Holt playing as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation, looked to ease themselves into the game against a Fulham side looking to circulate the ball with patience. Nonetheless, when the first chance did arrive in the 18th minute, it was via a mistake from Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy.

A simple pass back to the keeper was poorly cleared, straight to the feet of Bryan Ruiz, but the Costa Rican forward, an 11 million pound signing from Twente for the Cottagers last season, could only lob harmlessly over the crossbar.

Five minutes later and the story of the match again involved Ruddy, but this time it was him showing his best, with a smart save down to his right to deny John Arne Riise's angled drive, before some 90 seconds later he was forced into a smart save from Petric.

With Fulham starting to dictate the play a goal seemed like only a matter of time, and in the 26th minute the home side obliged to open the deadlock, but Hughton will have been furious with his side's defending.

The Fulham backline was allowed to keep possession, and when left back Riise wasn't pressured on the halfway line, the Norwegian hit a superb cross-field pass over his opposite number Tierney, sending clear Duff, who, having broke the offside trip, flicked the ball past Ruddy for the first goal.

Fulham was comfortably in charge of proceedings and doubled the lead in the 40th minute, with a debut goal from former Hamburg striker Petric.

Initially, his sublime through pass put through Ruiz, only for him to be denied by an excellent challenge from Ryan Bennett, but from the resulting corner Petric headed past Ruddy - despite the best efforts of a man on the line - to double the home sides advantage.

Unquetionably dissatisfied with his sides opening 45 minutes to the season, Hughton sent on striker Steve Morison for Andrew Surman at halftime, and switching his formation to 4-4-2 in an attempt to disrupt Fulham's rhythm.

In the 54th minute the game was over as a contest, thanks to a second goal for Petric.

Another neat passing move involving Diarra, Dembele and Ruiz, allowed Petric to find space 30 yards from goal, and when the ball arrived at the Croatian's feet, he rifled a left-footed shot goalwards, which deflected off Turner, and nestled in the back of the net.

Twelve minutes later, and Petric turned from scorer to provider as Fulham cut the Norwich defense apart once more to make it 4-0.

The imperious Dembele again found space and attacked the Norwich defense before feeding Petric, whose terrific backheel freed Kacaniklic, who converted coolly.

With the damage done, Martin Jol replaced the outstanding Petric, and introduced another new signing, the former Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega.

The Cottagers, in front of former manager Roy Hodgson, looked extremely impressive, terrific movement off the ball ensuring that the man in possession always had several options, and the away side simply didn't have any answer.

Steve Sidwell replaced Bryan Ruiz with 10 minutes remaining and the former Aston Villa midfielder got his name on the scoresheet in the 86th minute from the penalty spot.

Another wonderful pass from Dembele found Rodallega, who was cleaned out by Turner, who had endured a torrid debut, and Sidwell smashed the spot-kick past Ruddy, into the roof of the net.

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