Claus Jensen’s deflected drive secured a narrow win for Fulham over Everton, who haven’t won at Craven Cottage since 1966.
The Danish midfielder’s second half strike continued his impressive return to the side after Chris Coleman challenged him to earn a new contract following two injury-hit years with the Whites. Jensen’s effort – that took a wicked deflection off Lee Carsley – meant Everton’s dominance of a scrappy game went unrewarded as David Moyes’ men failed to score for the first time this season.
Andy Johnson had two penalty appeals waved away and missed a couple of glorious chances as the Toffees’ terrible Fulham at Fulham continued. The former Crystal Palace forward was denied at point blank range by Antti Niemi after Tim Cahill had flicked on Phil Neville’s long throw and he spooned a pitiful finish over the bar from four yards out when Cahill’s fine cross had taken the Fulham goalkeeper out of the equation.
Fulham’s clearest opening fell to Brian McBride right on the stroke of half time but the former Everton forward wasn’t able to beat his compatriot Tim Howard after turning impressively in the box. Everton began the second period the brighter with Simon Davies’ drive deflected narrowly past the post before Howard made a good save to keep out an Ian Pearce header. McBride climbed highest to head a Radzinski centre agonisingly wide at the back post, but Fulham’s flurry was rewarded midway through the first half
That had been the home side’s best chance by far and Howard was fortunate that when he punched a Boa Morte cross only as far as Wayne Routledge the winger’s first touch was poor.
Chris Coleman’s side looked to have discovered some confidence at last and there was applause for McBride after he had headed a Radzinski cross just wide at the back post.
Jensen broke the deadlock by pulling the trigger from distance – although he got fortunate with the deflection off Carsley that saw the shoot loop over a stranded Howard. Moyes sent on James Beattie in search of an equaliser and it nearly worked with Johnson denied twice in quick succession by Niemi before Fulham barely survived five frenetic minutes of added time.
FULHAM (4-5-1): Niemi; Rosenior, Queudrue, Knight; Pearce; Bocanegra, C. Jensen, Routledge (John 89), Boa Morte (Volz 84), Radzinski; McBride (Helguson 90). Subs (not used): Lastuvka, Zakuani.
GOAL: C. Jensen (66).
EVERTON (4-5-1): Howard; P. Neville, Stubbs, Lescott, Yobo; Davies (Beattie 72), Osman, Carsley (Anichebe 85), Cahill, Arteta; Johnson. Subs (not used): Turner, McFadden, Valente.
BOOKED: P. Neville.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire).