Charlton remain rooted to the foot of the Premiership table after their former midfielder Claus Jensen secured a narrow win for Fulham at Craven Cottage tonight.
Jensen, who had been encouraged by Chris Coleman to prove he is worth a new deal after two injury-hit seasons with the Whites, injected some serious quality into a drab contest when he came off the bench against his former employers. It took the Danish midfielder just seven minutes to create the opener for Brian McBride and Jensen volley a majestic second that meant the visitors had too much to do even after Darren Bent had pulled a goal back late on.
Fulham, who moved into the top half with this victory, began the London derby the brighter with Heidar Helguson going close after Talal El Karkouri slipped to allow the Icelandic to reach Brian McBride’s cross – but he headed wide. McBride was also off target from a Wayne Routledge corner after turning to shoot goalwards, but Charlton dominated the rest of the first half. Bent should have really tested Antti Niemi after being teed up by Dennis Rommedahl and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink then fired straight at the Finnish keeper. Andy Reid powered a terrific effort just past the post as the visitors finished the first period strongly.
A tight game turned on the introduction of Jensen, making his first league appearance in a year, just before the hour. McBride, who had headed criminally wide moments earlier, was the beneficiary of the Dane’s set-piece delivery as Fulham took the lead. Queudrue beat Souleymane Diawara in the air and the ball broke for McBride, who drove home from the edge of the box, with Charlton’s complaints about a possible handball by the American going unheeded.
Radzinski shot agonisingly over from a similar position just a minute later but Jensen doubled Fulham’s advantage after gliding onto a great ball from Liam Rosenior and shooting high into the net. Iain Dowie sent on Jerome Thomas and Marcus Bent in an attempt to liven up Charlton’s attack and the substitutions jolted the Addicks into life. Thomas’ run and cross caused consternation in the Fulham box and Bent fired home from close range, but Charlton couldn’t find an equaliser to prevent their fifth consecutive league defeat.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Queudrue, Pearce, Knight; Diop (Bocanegra 81), Brown, Radzinski, Routledge (Volz 79); McBride, Helguson (C. Jensen 58). Subs (not used): Lastuvka, John.
BOOKED: Queudrue (55).
GOALS: McBride (65), C. Jensen (67).
CHARLTON ATHLETIC (4-4-2): Carson; Young, El Karkouri, Diawara (Holland 79), Hreidarsson; Reid, Faye, Hughes (M. Bent 72), Rommedahl; Hasselbaink (Thomas 72), D. Bent. Subs (not used): Myhre, Fortune.
BOOKED: El Karkouri, Young, Reid.
GOAL: D. Bent (78).
REFEREE: Rob Styles (Hampshire).