Jimmy Bullard’s fine free-kick was enough to hand Fulham a narrow victory over newly-promoted Sheffield United at Craven Cottage this afternoon.

The shaggy-haired midfielder scored his second goal in three days to earn Fulham’s first win of the season. Having dispatched a penalty to pinch a point against Bolton on Wednesday night, the former Wigan man’s dead-ball prowess was again in evidence here. Bullard curled a brilliant 28-yard free-kick into the top corner to break the deadlock five minutes before half-time after Fulham had dominated the first half with Neil Warnock’s men struggling to find a focal point up front in the top flight.

Bullard brought an excellent early save out of Paddy Kenny and then fired over after swapping passes with Papa Bouba Diop. Collins John rattled the woodwork from close range whilst Blades skipper Chris Morgan wasted the visitors’ best chance by heading wide when left unattended at a corner. Bullard’s sublime strike from long-range put Fulham in front before the break, with Warnock quibbling with the award after Morgan brought down Boa Morte.

Danny Webber had a goal correctly ruled out for offside on the stroke of half and fit again Rob Hulse drove wide from distance as Warnock’s men sought to carry a greater threat after the interval. Substitute Tomasz Radzinski might have made it two shortly after coming on but he opted to try and square for Boa Morte rather than take a shot on himself after rampaging down the right. Bullard was denied a second by the woodwork in the closing stages, with Brian McBride firing the rebound wide, but Fulham repelled a period of pressure from the Blades in stoppage time to claim all three points.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Christanval, Pearce, Queudrue; Brown (Radzinski 68), Diop, Bullard, Boa Morte; John (Helguson 67), McBride. Subs (not used): Drobny, Volz, Bocanegra.

BOOKED: Diop, Helguson, Bullard.

GOAL: Bullard (40).

SHEFFIELD UNITED (4-4-2): Kenny, Bromby (Sommeil 80), Morgan, Jagielka, Unsworth, Montgomery (Nade 64), Tonge (A. Quinn 72), Leigertwood, Armstrong, Hulse, Webber. Subs (not used): Bennett, Akinbiyi.

BOOKED: Tonge, Leigertwood, A. Quinn.

REFEREE: Graham Poll (Hertfordshire).