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Queens Park Rangers
West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
October 20, 2012
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: C. Foy
• Attendance: 25693
C. Baird 84'
Thank you for joining Goal.com's live Premier League coverage this afternoon. We hope you enjoyed the match and look forward to welcoming you again soon!
Full-time at Craven Cottage! And it’s Fulham who take all three points today thanks to a Chris Baird goal, in an encounter in which they were narrowly the better side. Bitterly disappointing for Paul Lambert, however, as his Aston Villa side’s worst ever start to a Premier League campaign continues. It’s five wins from their last six games at home for the hosts. Fulham 1-0 Aston Villa.
90' + 2'
CHANCE! Incredible chance for Holman! He finds himself with space in the penalty area and smashes the ball in Mark Schwarzer's direction, but Hangeland does incredibly well to throw his body in front of the shot. Time is running out.
90' + 1'
Ron Vlaar has gone up as an extra striker for Villa, as they look to launch the ball into the box whenever they can. 4 minutes of stoppage time to play.
Fulham are still pressing high up the pitch here, putting a lot of pressure on an Aston Villa defence who are trying to play the ball out from the back slowly. Great work rate from Martin Jol's side.
Villa are throwing everything at this game, as Paul Lambert looks distraught on the touchline. He knows his side have played well today, but a lapse in concentration has let them down.
GOAL! The corner finds Chris Baird, who reaches the ball ahead of the opposition defence and successfully flicks it towards goal. Martin Jol is delighted on the touchline! Fulham 1-0 Aston Villa.
CHANCE! It's come from that Fulham right wing again. Riether races to the byline, before cutting back to Dejagah. The Iranian smashes a shot towards goal, but Guzan makes the save. Berbatov waits for the ball to drop, but it's out of play for a corner.
Corner to Fulham taken quickly after great link-up between Riether and Dejagah. The Iranian fires a dangerous ball into the six-yard box, but nobody gets a touch.
Berbatov attempts to thread a pass through to Dejagah, but it's a little strong for the Iranian. It looks as though it might take a bit of individual magic to break the deadlock here, and with the likes of Berbatov and N'Zogbia on the pitch, we're not short of candidates!
Yellow CardEric Lichaj
Lichaj picks up a booking for a poor challenge on Diarra.
Benteke shows his aerial ability instantaneously, as he throws himself into a challenge with Hughes. The Belgian had his eyes fixed on the ball, but was adjudged to have challenged the defender unfairly.
Chance for Fulham, as Riether races down the right and cuts back to Rodallega. The Colombian strikes for goal, but Lowton throws himself in front of the ball to make a fantastic block. Bent is replaced by Benteke.
Fulham corner, which Riise takes. However, the left-back can't beat Darren Bent at the front post, and the striker is able to header clear.
It's a debut for the 26-year-old Iranian midfielder Ashkan Dejagah, as he takes to the field in place of Kieran Richardson.
Yellow CardJ. Riise
Villa win the corner, but Riise clears N'Zogbia's cross comfortably. And the Norwegian finally puts a foot wrong, as he flies in dangerously on Lowton and earns himself a booking.
Both sides are giving possession away a little cheaply, and it is starting to look more and more like this match will be won in the midfield areas.
Ireland makes way for N'Zogbia, who could bring a little more invention to the Villains' midfield.
The game is a little disjointed at the moment, as both sides look to settle in to the changes they've made. Neither can turn possession into anything threatening at present..
It looks as though Martin Jol will be making a change too, as Diarra prepares to enter the fray. It's Petric who makes way, so it appears the home side are going to push Berbatov up to join Rodallega.
And Baker can't continue. Lichaj comes on in his place, but swaps in to the right-back position as Lowton moves into a more central role.
Baker's back on his feet, but it looks like a nasty fall. Paul Lambert will be hoping his centre-back can recover, as there is a lack of central defenders on the Villa substitutes' bench.
Slight appeal for a penalty from the hosts, as Berbatov feeds the ball in towards Petric on the edge of the box. Nathan Baker shows good strength to hold off the Croatian, but he appears to get his ankle caught under the striker and stays down.
Fulham move the ball around the midfield, before Sidwell begins to drive at the opposition defence. Nobody closes him down, so the 29-year-old tries his luck from distance. The ball flies just wide of Guzan's left post.
Chances are coming up everywhere! Lowton is found in acres of space down the right by Ireland. The right-back crosses to Agbonlahor, who can't quite get his header on target. You can sense a goal at Craven Cottage, although which way it will go is anybody's guess!
CHANCE! Sidwell wns a header on the edge of the Villa penalty area, and the ball flies towards Berbatov. The Bulgarian tries the spectacular, with a bicycle kick that flies wide. We've seen him pull those off before!
Yellow CardKarim El Ahmadi
First booking of the game goes to El Ahmadi, who brings down a counter-attacking Berbatov in the middle of the field.
CHANCE! Two chances for the visitors. Ireland attempts to find Agbonlahor with a ball over the Fulham defence, but Baird clears. Ireland finds the ball again and drills it in from the right. Agbonlahor makes contact at the near post, but cannot get enough on the ball to re-direct it towards goal. Better from the away side.
CHANCE! Fantastic play from Riise again, as he intercepts before playing a one-two with Richardson. The Norwegian crosses to Rodallega at the back post, but the Colombian makes a mess of his shot, failing to hit the target.
Fulham get the second half underway.
You might be interested to hear that Dimitar Berbatov has completed 14 passes today. That's ten more than his counterpart, Darren Bent, has managed at the other end.
We're a few minutes away from the restart at Craven Cottage, be sure to stay with us for the second half as both sides seek all three points!
In the meantime, let me remind you of a couple of interesting statistics. This is Aston Villa's worst ever start to a Premier League campaign, but the hosts have not managed to beat the Villains in their last six attempts, drawing three and losing three.
What are your views on that first half? What do you think that your team needs to do to win this match? Tweet your views @alfiemeekings
45' + 1'
Half-time at Craven Cottage! Fulham have been the brighter of the two teams, with Dimitar Berbatov dictating the game for the hosts. Paul Lambert's men have grown into the game as the half has worn on, however, and have not been without chances of their own. The second half is there for the taking, and it may be the case that it's a battle of the the half-time team talks. Fulham 0-0 Aston Villa.
CHANCE! Agbonlahor takes the ball in after a nice flick-on from Holman. It looks as though the striker could hit it first time, but he tries to find Bent instead, who strikes wide. A free-kick has already been given Fulham's way, however, as Agbonlahor is adjudged to have fouled his man.
CHANCE! Petric is brought down unfairly and Rodallega floats in a fantastic ball from the resulting free-kick. It finds Sidwell with a free header, but the midfielder cannot hit the target. Best chance of the match so far.
Riise is playing more like a winger here, as he sprints a full 50 yards with the ball and wins a throw-in for his troubles. Delph attempts to clear and wins a throw off Steve Sidwell.
Another incredible cross-field ball from Sidwell finds Riise in space on the left. Villa get the ball clear, but only as far as Berbatov on the edge of the area. The Bulgarian attempts a difficult volley, but it's too high to trouble Guzan.
CHANCE! Rodallega catches Bennett in possession on the edge of the Villa penalty area. The Colombian tries to cut back, but a defender intercepts. The ball falls to Petric, but Bennett puts his body on the line to block the shot.
Hugo Rodallega is back on the field, and is working hard defensively for his side today. Bennett tries to take on the Colombian, but is eased of the ball half way inside the Fulham half.
Fulham are currently dominating possession, but the noise around the stadium is all from the traveling support. The Villa faithful are in fantastic voice at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
Rodallega makes his way off the field with a bit of a messy nose. Free-kick has been awarded to the hosts, although it looked accidental.
Corner to the visitors, but Stephen Ireland's cross is comfortably taken by Schwarzer in the hosts goal. The keeper aims for Rodallega, who slips and takes an accidental knock in the face from Holman.
A lot of positive stuff coming down the left for Martin Jol's side, as Richardson and Riise link up again and win a corner. The cross is aimed at Hangeland, but the Norwegian heads straight up into the air.
Great tackle from Vlaar! Petric was running towards the Villa goal, with men over on the left. But the Dutchman stood up well and dispossessed the Croatian.
Free-kick in a dangerous position for Fulham, just outside the area near the right corner flag. Richardson looks to cross to Sidwell, but Hplman reads it well and comes away with possession.
Chance wasted for the away side. Holman finds acres of space on the edge of the area, but instead of driving at the defence he lashes an early shot wide of the target.
CHANCE! Another fantastic ball in from Riise from the left, who is getting a lot of joy out of crossing from deep. Rodallega wins the header, but can't hit the target.
Applause echoes from the away supporters, followed by a chorus of 'there's only one Stiliyan Petrov'. The Villa captain, currently sidelined with Leukemia, is applauded in the 19th minute of each of their games as it's the number he wears on the back of his shirt. Fulham fans also applaud.
Corner for the hosts, but Riise's cross is returned towards him by the Villa defence. It goes out of play for a throw-in, but the visitors' backline show good organisation to get the ball clear.
Great effort from Gabriel Agbonlahor! Ireland finds the space in between defence and midfield before feeding the striker out on the left. He cuts inside, running past two men before striking at goal. Schwarzer saves comfortably, however.
CHANCE! Sidwell fires a fantastic ball out to Riise on the left. The left-back finds Petric at the back post, but he can't generate enough power to really test Brad Guzan with his header.
A controlled start here from Fulham, as they try to dictate play with short passing around the midfield and defence. Eventually a gap opens and a chance falls for Petric, but he fails to hit the target.
The home crowd are incensed, as Berbatov appears to be brought down by Baker on the edge of the area. Chris Foy waves play-on, the Bulgarian stays down.
Half-chance for the visitors, as Agbonlahor skips away from Sidwell before unleashing a strike from 30 yards. Unsurprisingly, he doesn't manage to test Schwarzer. Positive from the striker, though.
Another chance for Fulham, and it's all revolving around Berbatov again. He holds up the ball in the penalty area before finding Baird on the right. The full-back feeds it in to Riether who strikes for goal, but Guzan makes the save.
Bright start from the hosts, as Richardson feeds Berbatov inside the area. The Bulgarian hesitates as he thinks he's offside, before firing straight at Brad Guzan.
And we're underway!
Something you’d change in those lineups? Think you can predict today’s result? I want to hear your views on twitter, get in touch @alfiemeekings throughout the course of the match.
For the visitors, Stephen Ireland returns from a broken wrist which has kept him out of Villa’s last three matches. Baker steps in at centre-back for the injured Ciaran Clark and unsettled striker Darren Bent is preferred ahead of Christian Benteke.
Few surprises in the home lineup, as Berbatov and Petric return from respective hip and calf injuries. Kieran Richardson’s goal-scoring cameo against Southampton has done enough to earn him a place ahead of Damien Duff, while Phillipe Senderos, who has not featured for the hosts this season, returns to the substitutes’ bench.
And the substitutes' bench for each side. Fulham: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Karagounis, Diarra, Dejagah and Kacaniklic Aston Villa: Given, N'Zogbia, Albrighton, Benteke, Bannan, Weimann and Lichaj.
Aston Villa starting XI: Guzan; Lowton, Baker, Vlaar, Bennett; Delph, El Ahmadi, Ireland, Holman; Bent, Agbonlahor.
Here are today’s lineups, starting with Fulham: Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Richardson, Sidwell, Petric, Riether; Rodallega, Berbatov.
Good afternoon, and welcome to Goal.com’s live coverage of today’s Premier League encounter between Fulham and Aston Villa. I’m Alfie Meekings, and I’ll be taking you through all of the action from Craven Cottage.
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