Norwich City 1-2 Fulham
A Boxing Day cracker from Scott Parker gave Fulham a late Christmas present as they edged out Norwich City at Carrow Road.
Parker hit a late stunner to gift-wrap three vital points for the Whites but they remain in the drop zone tonight as Crystal Palace sprung an upset at Aston Villa.
Dimitar Berbatov played no part after failing to recover from a groin injury as as manager Rene Meulensteen made five changes to the side that were beaten 4-2 at home to Manchester City.
Maarten Stekelenberg turned an ankle in training and was not risked for the clash at Carrow Road as David Stockdale made his first appearance between the sticks since the start of October, with Marcus Bettinelli recalled from his loan spell at Accrington Stanley.
Bettinelli took his place from the bench alongside Hugo Rodallega, who returned to the squad after recovering from an abductor problem, and Philippe Senderos, John Arne Riise, Giorgos Karagounis and Ashkan Dejagah.
Fernando Amorebieta, Damien Duff, Pajtim Kasami and Alexander Kacaniklic all earned starts and the chance to impress new Whites technical director Alan Curbishley, who was in the stands to take a closer look at his new club.
Curbishley wouldn’t have been impressed with the start Fulham made though as the visitors fell behind as early as the 12th minute, Gary Hooper’s long-range drive cruelly deflecting off Aaron Hughes and floating over the head of Stockdale.
Kasami was the early threat for Fulham. The Swiss international went close with a fine strike of his own before creating decent opportunities for first Kieran Richardson and then Duff as Fulham searched for the equaliser.
It arrived a shade after the half-hour mark and it was that man Kasami who delivered it, curling a free-kick under the disintegrating Norwich wall and into the corner of John Ruddy’s net to send the teams in on level terms at the interval.
The Canaries made a blistering start to the second-half. Sascha Reither had to be alert to clear former Tottenham centre-back Sebastien Bassong’s header off the line after Robert Snodgrass had whipped in a corner.
Both teams were really pressing for the crucial third goal of the match. Amorebieta launched a long ball forward, catching the City defence off-guard, however Adel Taarabt’s volley was well saved by Ruddy.
Fulham thought they had found a winner when Rodallega’s header was bundled clear by Ruddy. It looked as though the ball had crossed the line but the Hawkeye system said otherwise.
But just when it appeared the points would be shared, Fulham found a way through. And it was Curbishley’s old favourite Parker who showed his former boss he’s not lost it with a 25-yarder that left Ruddy with no chance.
The games keep coming thick and fast for Meulensteen’s side during the festive period, with Steve Bruce’s Hull up next on Saturday. Hull were beaten by champions Manchester United today but will take heart from their performance after pushing the Red Devils all the way.
Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Amorebieta, Richardson; Sidwell, Parker, Kasami; Duff (Rodallega 59), Taarabt (Dejagah 71), Kacaniklic (Riise, 92).
Subs (not used): Ruiz, Boateng, Bent, Bettinelli.