Fulham convincing in three goal win

Fulham convincing in three goal win

Published Sep. 15, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Dimitar Berbatov scored twice in his home debut as Fulham beat 10-man West Bromwich Albion 3-0 in the English Premier League on Saturday.

Berbatov struck a brace on his home debut as Jol's side eased to a comfortable victory over a Baggies team reduced to 10 men in the first half when Peter Odemwingie was sent off for kicking Sascha Riether.

The first goal saw the 31-year-old take control of the ball and bend it inside Ben Foster's post, with the second coming from a penalty at the end of the first half.

Steve Sidwell added the third in the 89th minute to hand Fulham their second win of the season.


As well as opening his goalscoring account for Fulham, Berbatov also contributed from a defensive point of view and Jol was happy with his all-round performance.

"I think he did more than he has ever done before in his life," the Dutchman said.

"He was at the back, he was in midfield, he was up-front and he scored a good goal so I was happy.

"We had a young bench and that is why I was so pleased with Dimitar."

After losing top goalscorer Dempsey to Tottenham in the final hours of the transfer window, Jol is now hoping former Manchester United frontman Berbatov can become the club's new talisman.

"That is a challenge for him," he said. "I think he scored 23 goals when I had him at Spurs.

"I'm sure that if he is fit then he will do what Clint Dempsey did for us."

With Dempsey and Mousa Dembele now both plying their trade at White Hart Lane and Bryan Ruiz, Kieran Richardson and Mahamadou Diarra all missing through injury, Jol had to name an unfamiliar midfield four.

But Jol was full of praise for the players who came into his starting line-up and knows they have to maintain a high level of performance to make up for the players who left over the course of the summer.

He said: "It was important because we lost our best players and our top goalscorer from the last couple of seasons, so we had to do something and create a new identity in midfield.

"My whole midfield was new, my front-line was new, (we played) a different system.

"I still feel we have to work hard to get the same quality as we had last year with Danny Murphy and Dembele. It was one of the best midfields in England.

"I was really pleased they stepped up a gear to satisfy us. We lost five midfield players and no-one came in so I was very pleased with Bairdy (Chris Baird) and (Steve) Sidwell."

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke tasted his first league defeat in charge of the Baggies and bemoaned their start to the game as the main reason behind the loss.

He said: "I was disappointed with the way we started the game. I thought we allowed Fulham to get too much control in the game, we started slowly and suffered for that because we lost a goal.

"The biggest disappointment in the first half was losing the second goal right on half-time."

Clarke refused to use the dismissal of Odemwingie as an excuse and was more content with how his side performed after half-time.

"We are all human, everybody has got emotions," he said.

"He thought he had a free-kick against him, the red mist obviously came down and he will take his punishment.

"He will get his three-game ban and the club have got a disciplinary process we will go through, and we move on. In football it happens, people get sent off.

"I was happier with the second-half performance. I think we approached the game well second half and we tried to cause a few problems which I think we succeeded in.

"We spoke at half-time and said if we could make it 2-1 we could make it an uncomfortable afternoon for Fulham, but it didn't work out like that."

Clarke's 10 men held Fulham at bay until Sidwell scored in the closing stages but it was goalkeeper Foster who pulled off a string of superb saves to keep the scoreline respectable.

The former England goalkeeper completed a permanent move to the Hawthorns over the summer and Clarke was pleased with the 29-year-old's performance.

He said: "He made some good saves but you know when you are down to 10 men that the opposition will have chances against you.

"We spent a lot of time in the summer chasing Ben Foster because we know he is capable of making those types of saves.

"We know he is a top goalkeeper and we paid good money for him. Performances like that are what we expect from Ben Foster."