Premier League - Stoke leave it late to beat Fulham

Sat, 15 Oct 16:54:00 2011

Stoke City left it late with two strikes in the final 10 minutes to beat Fulham 2-0 in their Premier League clash at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke 2 Fulham 0

The match was played at a breathless pace throughout, but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal until Jonathan Walters tapped home from close range in the 80th minute.

Stoke made sure of the three points just three minutes from time as Rory Delap headed a second goal in clinical fashion, and Tony Pulis's side sealed their third victory of the campaign.

Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson have scored a combined 14 goals in all competitions so far this season, with the latter hitting in hat-trick in the 6-0 hammering of west London rivals QPR last time out, but Fulham lacked any potency in the final third at the Britannia.

Matthew Etherington passed a late fitness test after having a sugar injection for his back injury, but the winger conceded an early corner which caused havoc in the Stoke box as Danny Murphy's devilish delivery was not dealt with by Asmir Begovic.

Fulham were positive going forward early on and a slick move with Zamora at the forefront almost culminated in a goal as Moussa Dembele fed John Arne Riise, who lashed a fierce drive narrowly over the crossbar in the 19th minute.

But Dembele did not last much longer as Martin Jol made an enforced change in the 36th minute with Damien Duff introduced at the forward's expense after he sustained a knock following an innocuous challenge.

Zamora went close himself just before half-time as the forward rose imperiously to meet Chris Baird's pinpoint cross from the right, but his glancing effort drifted agonisingly wide of the far post with Begovic comprehensively beaten.

Stoke had the last chance of the half as Jermaine Pennant hurtled into the Stoke box and unleashed a fizzing shot as he latched onto a downward header from Peter Crouch, but it zipped wide of the far post with Mark Schwarzer committed.

The second half began at the similarly frenetic tempo as both sides flew forward at every opportunity, and there was chaos in the Fulham box as Schwarzer was unable to deal with a Delap long throw, and Crouch could not quite convert with a header from close range.

Delap struck the post in the 67th minute after the midfielder turned inside Steve Sidwell's challenge and curled a sublime effort from outside the Fulham box beyond Schwarzer's despairing dive, but the woodwork came to the visitors' rescue.

It was Fulham's turn to be denied by the woodwork in the 78th minute as Riise belted a ferocious shot from a 25-yard free kick and the ball rebounded cruelly off the crossbar and dropped to safety.

But two minutes later, the deadlock was finally broken. Etherington drove a fierce low shot towards the far post from another downward header from Crouch, with Walters on hand to turn the ball into an empty net after loitering in the six-yard box.

Fulham immediately pressed forward in response to the opening goal, but it was Stoke who struck just seven minutes later: Etherington whipped over a precise free kick from out on the left, and Delap met it cleanly with a powerful downward header to double the hosts' advantage.

The victory lifts Stoke into seventh spot in the Premier League table, while it was a drop back down to earth for Fulham following their exploits against QPR.

Dan Quarrell - follow on Twitter @danquarrell / Eurosport

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