Premier League - Five-star Fulham thump Norwich

Fulham new boy Mladen Petric bagged a brace as the Cottagers romped to a 5-0 home victory over Norwich City on the opening day of the season.

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Norwich City's Bradley Johnson (left) and Fulham's John Arne Riise battle for the ball

The Croatian ran the Canaries ragged at the back and capped a lively debut with two goals and an assist. After this performance Fulham fans will shrug off the imminent departure of Clint Dempsey, with their new hero emphatically signalling his intent.

Damien Duff got the ball rolling for Martin Jol’s men with a cool finish in the first half. The scorer then turned provider as he picked out Petric with a pinpoint cross to make it 2-0 before half-time.

As Norwich City ran out of steam in the second half, Fulham marched on and Petric thundered a left foot drive past a motionless John Ruddy, via the back of Michael Turner.

He then made a fourth for Alexander Kacaniklic with a delightful back heel pass. By this point the fight had been drained out of the visitors’ legs and it was a tired challenge from Turner on Hugo Rodallega in the box that gave Steve Sidwell the chance to make it five.

The second half substitute smashed the spot kick into the roof of the net to complete a resounding afternoon for the south-west Londoners.

New Canaries boss Chris Hughton would have been pleased with the way his side started the game and they could have quite easily taken the lead inside the opening 20 minutes.

A brilliant lay off from Grant Holt played Andrew Surman through on goal, but a heavy first touch took the midfielder wide and his shot from an acute angle was saved by the legs of Mark Schwarzer.

But that was to prove a false dawn as the hosts then took complete control, with Ruddy flickering between the ridiculous and the sublime.

He almost gifted the opening goal to Bryan Ruiz with a poor clearance, but he was let off the hook as the Costa Rican striker wasted the opportunity.

Moments later Ruddy redeemed himself by doing brilliantly to get down to his left and beat out a powerful low drive from John Arne Riise.

There was no respite for the Norwich custodian as he swatted away a firm shot from Petric.

The visitors were looking shaky at the back as the long ball continued to expose their high line. They didn’t pay heed to the warning signs and were punished in the 26th minute.

A long diagonal ball from Riise sailed over right back Marc Tierney, finding Duff running in behind. The Irishman brought the ball down with an immaculate first touch and poked it past the advancing Ruddy.

As the first half drew to a close it took a last ditch challenge from Ryan Bennett to deny Ruiz, but the guests’ mercy was short lived.

From the resulting corner Duff’s delivery found Petric, who made it 2-0 with a well guided header past Ruddy. Jonathan Howson tried his best to hook the effort clear, but the ball had already crossed the line.

Before the referee blew the half-time whistle Ruiz stung the hands of Ruddy with curling shot from the edge of the box.

Fulham started the second half with the same energy as they finished the first, as Norwich showed signs for tiring.

It took Petric just nine minutes to add his second and Fulham’s third of the afternoon. Slack defending afforded the Croatian an abundance of room on the edge of the box and he let fly with his left foot.

Turner turned his back, the ball deflected off his shoulder and flew past a helpless Ruddy rooted to the spot.

Petric then showed he can create as well as score, when he back heeled a pass from Moussa Dembele into the path of the advancing Kacaniklic, who took the ball in his stride and stroked a cool finish into the back of the net.

Sidwell compounded the visitors’ misery when he converted from 12 yards, after Dawson had chopped down Rodallega in the box.

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