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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
August 17, 2013
• 10:00 AM
• Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Referee: N. Swarbrick
• Attendance: 43905
P. Kasami 53'
That's it from me Harry Slavin. Thanks for joining me today for this opening day encounter from the Stadium of Light. Until next time, goodbye!
FULL-TIME SUNDERLAND 0-1 FULHAM. Kasami's header at the beginning of the second period is the difference then in this subdued opening day affair. Sunderland certainly had their chances but their luck in front of goal without Steven Fletcher continues to be sparse in the new season.
90' + 5'
It's headed clear and that should do it...
90' + 5'
Now this surely is last chance saloon for the hosts. Giaccherini is fouled on the left by Riether. One last chance for Larsson to deliver...
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Damien Duff
90' + 3'
It's headed clear though and Fulham threaten to break. Only a robust challenge from Altidore putting an end to Kasami's advance to goal.
90' + 3'
Jack Colback is hauled down by Duff and the Fulham winger is booked for that. Larsson has the chance to launch the ball into a busy penalty area.
90' + 1'
Into FIVE minutes of stoppage time we go! Can Sunderland salvage anything now?
THAT WAS THE CHANCE!!! Adam Johnson serves up the best cross of the game that is just screaming to be nodded home, but Korean Dong-Won can only head wide.
ALTIDORE! The bulky American slaloms his way through a couple of tackles in the Fulham area but his rushed effort on goal is weak and roles into the hands of Stockdale.
Final role of the dice for Di Canio as he brings on Wickham for Celustka. The England Under-21 star has five minutes to elevate himself to super-sub status.
Yellow Card D. Berbatov
Berbatov, who has been virtually anonymous all day, is booked for an overzealous protest after taking exception to a Jack Colback challenge.
There was an official attendance here today of 43,905 but I'm not sure it's that full now as the away fans taunt the home supporters with chants of 'We can see you sneaking out'.
Giaccherini sends a looping cross over Stockdale that drops just too far ahead of Altidore. The ball was adjudged to have gone out in any case but still Sunderland press.
A cross from Altidore but this one is overhit. Signs of desperation seeping in to Sunderland's play here.
A disappointing end to what was a solid debut from the Dutch goalkeeper. His first half save was definitely a moment to savor.
Stekelenburg looks to have damaged his shoulder in that rush for the ball with Altidore. The official judgement is that he won't be able to continue and Stockdale is one in his place to see out the final fifteen.
More direct running from Johnson and a real chance falls to Giaccherini. The Italian's shot is deflected by Aaron Hughes into the path of Altidore, but the USA international can't reach the ball ahead of Stekelenburg.
Sunderland do go to two up front. But there's still no sign of Wickham.Dong-Won Ji is on for Stephane Sessegnon for the final twenty.
That is a nasty challenge from Larsson, catching Katagounis on the shin with a high boot. The Swede is lucky though as no further action is taken.
It may be time for Di Canio to think about some changes too. The wide play is working but there is just no one in the middle to attack the crosses. There are strikers on the bench, including young Connor Wickham. But will the Italian be compelled to use them just yet?
I have to say, this makes a lot of sense. A lot of what Fulham have done today hasn't been of note but Boateng's performance has stood out like a sore thumb. He's replaced by Giorgos Karagounis.
Altidore gets his first sight of goal. The American takes down O'Shea's long ball and after a sharp turn, he's able to get his shot away, dragging it wide though of Stekelenburg's goal.
These walls are acting like magnets today. Adam Johnson's shot slams into the barricade of players 10-yards in front of him and his rebound catches the foot of Giaccherini in an offside position.
Chance now though. Altidore is hauled down by Hangeland and the Di Canio's side have a free kick on the edge of the Fulham area.
It's all Sunderland now as they look to get back on level terms. Scoring goals was one of there main problems last season, especially without Steven Fletcher on the field. That same problem is rearing its head at the beginning of this campaign.
More frustration for the hosts as more good wide movement isn't capitalised on in the centre. Johnson again terrorises Briggs down the right but his cutback is wasted as Cabral tries to take a touch rather than shooting first time.
Sunderland look to respond quickly and Adam Johnson nods the ball back into the path of Cabral. He cannot get himself set though and ends up skewing his half-volley horribly high and horribly wide.
Completely against the run of play Fulham have the lead. That's their only effort on goal so far this afternoon. And so far, it's the only strike that matters too
Assist Damien Duff
Goal Pajtim Kasami
GOOOAAAALLLL!!! FULHAM LEAD!!! A Corner is swung in from Damien Duff and Pajtim Kasami rises above Valentin Roberge at the back post to nod the Cottagers in front, silencing the home fans.
The pressure pays off as Sunderland have the ball back. They quickly lose it again though, this time in the crowd as Adam Johnson fires well over the bar from outside the area.
Sunderland are definitely trying to push higher up the park here and put pressure on Fulham whenever they have the ball. It's what the home fans want but they'll need to watch they don't leave themselves exposed.
Aaron Hughes has lost his boot in a challenge with Jozy Altidore bu the referee halts play for a foul on the Northern Irish defender and is reunited with his lost show.
Early problems for Fulham and they're caused by that man Giaccherini once again. He gets into the penalty area and delivers a low cross but no one is there to get on the end of it.
The teams are back out at a sunny Stadium of Light. Here we go again...
Fulham meanwhile have yet to have a single attempt on goal. They'll be hoping to rectify that in the second half.
A subdued opening forty-five from Wearside then as most of the players still appear to be on the beach. Giaccherini seems a very shrewd signing already and has excited the home side's fans with some of his dribbling.
HALF-TIME SUNDERLAND 0-0 FULHAM. Football is back but so far the bang is sadly lacking. It was almost provided by Sunderland's Celustka, but apart from his long-range pile-driver there has been very little action at the Stadium of Light so far.
A sniff was all it was and a sniff it remains as Taarabt sends the free kick straight into the wall. Poor effort.
Right at the end of the half, Fulham have a sniff. Taarabt is brought down on the edge of the box by a clumsy Cabral tackle and this is certainly within striking distance.
The two main figures of the half square up and produce a rather predictable outcome. Giaccherini, who ahs easily been the highlight of a timid opening forty-five goes toe-to-toe with the unsure-looking Boateng. The little Italian skips past his Ghanaian opponent with ease, but Altidore nods the cross high and wide.
Just under five minutes until the break now and we've yet to see a goal. Apart from Celustka's rocket, chances have been few and far between in all honesty.
Of course Fulham aren't helping themselves at the moment. Brede Hangeland is almost dispossessed in his own half by a tenacious Sessegnon and his scuffed clearance falls at the feet of Johnson. Sunderland eventually win a free kick out of it but it could have been much better. Or worse, if you're sitting in a Fulham shirt.
Sunderland are enjoying a sustained period of pressure here but they've still to break the deadlock. You just wonder if they'll regret not making this count.
WHAT A HIT!!! Ondrej Celustka finds himself in unfamiliar territory in the Fulham half and when he picks up Jack Colback's lofted pass the ball sits up invitingly to hit from 30-yards. And hit he does! Only a finger-tip stop from Stekelenburg prevents the defender opening the scoring in memorable fashion.
Giaccherini provides us with the first shot on target of the afternoon but it's straight at Stekelenburg who deals with it comfortably despite the power behind it.
Giaccherini is looking increasingly dangerous as the game goes on. This time the Italian whips a low ball into the centre but Jozy Altidore can't get anything on it as it flashes across the face of goal.
A bit of a let off for 22-year old Matthew Briggs as he almost let's Adam Johnson nip the ball away from him on the bye-line. Luckily for the defender, Stekelenburg is alert to pounce on the loose ball.
We have the first signs of the Di Canio getting animated on the sidelines as he lambasts a wayward pass in midfield. The Italian general fixes his tie however and recomposes himself. Outburst averted.
This Cabral figure does like a shot. The Cape Verde man lines up another effort from the edge of the area, whistling just wide of Stekelenburg's right-hand post.
Seb Larsson smacks the free kick straight into the wall but his second delivery has to be poked behind by Steve Sidwell. A brave diving header from Kasami dismantles any threat from the following corner.
Yellow Card D. Boateng
The weather is getting better and Sunderland are beginning to hot up as well. Giaccherini embarks on a mazy run and is hacked down by Boateng, the Fulham man subsequently picking up a yellow card.
Boateng's first outing in a Fulham shirt has been exactly convincing as yet. The giant Ghanaian tries an acrobatic clearance from just outside his own box but gets it horribly wrong and ends up toe-poking the ball high in the air. His team-mates are on hand to bail him out this time around.
Sure enough he does make way. Young Matthew Briggs is on in his place.
Not good news for Fulham and ex-Sunderland man Kieran Richardson. The winger is holding his thigh and it looks like he may have to go off here.
Clumsy tackle from Derek Boateng in the midfield brings up a free kick for the hosts. Not the most graceful you'll see this season but I guess someone has to fill the void left by Paul Scholes.
Wise move from Stekelenburg. The former Roma keeper has obviously been doing his Premier League homework on his opponents as he takes some time out to burst a few balloons in the penalty area. Even the Dutch keeper can remember what happened to Pepe Reina here just a few seasons ago.
We've had the first 10 minutes of Premier League football back in the North East and so far it has looked pretty good for Sunderland. Their wingers certainly look capable of hurting this Fulham defence this afternoon.
Cabral brings down Adel Taarabt about 35-yards from the Sunderland goal. The man on loan from QPR swings in the cross but the danger is headed clear.
First sight of goal for Fulham as Kasami shapes up to shoot, but a strong block from Celustka sees the danger cleared.
A couple of Sunderland's new-boys now trying to make their mark. Giaccherini, an excellent summer capture from Juventus, marauds down the left, firing in a dangerous low cross. When the ball deflects out it falls to former FC Basel midfielder Cabral, who fires wide with the first effort of the match.
Adam Johnson is player who got some stick for his slow start to life in Sunderland jersey last season. He's started well today though, out-muscling Richardson with ease before playing in Sessegnon who was in an offside position.
An early corner for the home side is punched clear by Maarten Stekelenburg making his debut between the sticks for Fulham today. That will do his confidence no harm in the early stages.
Early chants of Paolo Di Canio are belted out by the home fans. The little Italian has been awarded cult hero status on Wearside after masterminding their side's survival last season, and not to mention, the dismantling of Newcastle at St James' Park.
We are off! Jozy Altidore and Stephan Sessegnon get the ball rolling and football is officially back in the North East
The stadium announcer goes through the squads once more and a host of boos are generated by the name of former Newcastle midfielder Damien Duff. The rivalry between the two North East sides is something definitely will not change in the season ahead.
Out come the teams to a deafening reception. The handshakes are still a necessary event for the season ahead. We're past those as well now, all that's left is the big kick off.
The Stadium is filling up on Wearside quite nicely now. A fantastic mixture of nerves and excitement swirling around as both sides prepare to embark on the new season ahead.
FULHAM:(4-4-1-1) Stekelenburg; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Richardson; Kasami, Boateng, Sidwell, Duff; Taarabt; Berbatov. SUBS: Senderos, Ruiz, Stockdale, Karagounis, Briggs, Rodallega, Bent.
SUNDERLAND: (4-4-1-1) Westwood, Celustka, Roberge, O'Shea, Colback; Giaccherini, Larsson, Cabral, Johnson; Sessegnon; Altidore. SUBS: Wickham, Mandron, Moberg Karlsson, Diakite, Ba, Cuellar, Ji.
We are about 10 minutes or so from kick off so let's get some team news from the Stadium of Light.
There have been big changes at Craven Cottage too over the summer as Shahid Khan bought the club from Mohamed Al Fayed, ending the Harrods owners 16-year association with the club. There have been changes on the pitch too, and Martin Jol is able to hands out three debuts this afternoon.
Paolo Di Canio has overseen wholesale changes to his squad after squeezing out of the relegation trap door last season. He has made no fewer than 10 summer signings as he looks to whip the North East side back into shape, and five of those recruits are handed a debut this afternoon.
It's the most eagerly anticipated day of the season as the slate is wiped clean and every side starts from the same spot. Each team harbouring genuine hope for the season ahead, and the Black Cats and the Cottagers are no different.
Yes after a three month hiatus we can finally wrestle back the tv remotes from the other half and don those replica shirts with pride. I'm Harry Slavin and I'll be with you take you through the action as Sunderland entertain Fulham on the first day of the season.
It's been a long time coming but it's finally here. It's time to down those tennis rackets and cricket bats. It's time to put those deck chairs back into the shed for another year and leave your gran in the garden sipping gin by herself. The hibernation is finally over, the Premier League is back!
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