Premier League - Fulham grab vital win over Stoke
Clint Dempsey struck a goal in each half to guide Fulham to a 2-0 Premier League win over 10-man Stoke at Craven Cottage, easing the pressure on manager Mark Hughes.
Dempsey slid in to give Fulham the lead in the 33rd minute, before scoring from the penalty spot in the 55th after he was brought down by Ryan Shawcross.
Shawcross saw red and Stoke never recovered, rarely troubling David Stockdale in the Fulham goal.
John Carew was introduced in the second half but could do little to prevent a disappointing Stoke display ending in defeat.
But the first chance of the game fell to Stoke, as Shawcross rose above Aaron Hughes to head wide when he should have scored.
Damien Duff was a constant menace on the right wing and his tendency to cut inside and shoot almost produced the opening goal of the game.
The Irishman's jinking run saw him create enough space to unleash a left-footed rocket which cannoned back off the bar after Asmir Begovic got the faintest of touches to carry it onto the woodwork.
Duff was again at the centre of the action when another run from the right allowed him to send a curler to the far post, which Begovic palmed away onto the arm of Shawcross.
Stoke were lucky to survive that legitimate penalty appeal but, moments later, Fulham were lucky not to be a goal down when Chris Baird's poor clearance from a Matthew Etherington free kick went straight to Kenwyne Jones, who rifled a shot against the outside of the right post.
But Fulham were the better side throughout the first half and were rewarded in the 32nd minute went a tidy turn by Andy Johnson got him away from Shawcross. Johnson's low cross was slid in by Dempsey from close range, handing Fulham a 1-0 half time lead.
Stoke started the second half positively, but their hopes of a comeback were scuppered in the 55th minute when Shawcross was shown a straight red card for a foul on Dempsey in the box.
Dempsey was released by Murphy's lofted ball and, through on goal, was taken out by the out-of-position Shawcross, leaving the referee with no option. Dempsey picked himself up to score his second of the match from the spot.
From that point, Stoke never looked likely to turn the game around with their danger man Etherington effectively neutralised by John Pantsil.
Andy Johnson, who looked sharp all game, missed the chance to make it 3-0 late on when his brilliant take from Murphy's long ball got him away from Abdoulaye Faye, but his left-footed shot was scuffed and saved. Carew came on for his Stoke debut and brought with him a greater presence in attack than Tuncay Sanli could provide, but he struggled create any significant openings as the Fulham defence stuck to their task well to secure a valuable win.