Goals from Brian McBride and Tomasz Radzinski fashioned Fulham’s first win over Arsenal for four decades on a dramatic night at Craven Cottage.

The Gunners never recovered from Fulham’s ferocious start with a header from McBride and Radzinski’s far-post finish had Chris Coleman’s men 2-0 up inside the first twenty minutes. Although Robin van Persie halved their arrears with an outstanding free-kick, Arsenal’s attempts at a comeback were undermined by the second half sending off of Philippe Senderos and both sides battered the woodwork in a frantic finale.

Coleman called for a reaction from his side after the disappointing weekend defeat by Reading and Fulham delivered one of their best performances of the season. McBride headed in a corner from Claus Jensen to put them in front and former Arsenal winger Luis Boa Morte made the second for Radzinski with a sensational piece of play down the left flank. The Canadian international injured himself in colliding with the advertising hoardings at the Putney End after tucking home his first goal of the season and had to be replaced at half-time.

The hosts might have increased their lead when Michael Brown opened up the Arsenal defence and the lively Boa Morte was thwarted by Jens Lehmann. Instead, Arsenal grabbed a lifeline when van Persie curled in a fabulous free-kick after Liam Rosenior had fouled Alexander Hleb. Jensen and McBride spurned good chances to restore Fulham’s two-goal cushion before the break and, as the visitors applied pressure after the interval, you wondered whether Coleman would come to rue those misses.

Thierry Henry had the ball in the net but was thwarted by an offside flag and the complexion of the contest changed when Senderos was shown a second yellow card for bringing down Boa Morte. The Portuguese winger almost exacted further punishment from the free-kick as his shot came down off the underside of the bar before Theo Walcott rattled the woodwork at the other end with virtually his first touch.

Boa Morte, who was nigh on unplayable against his old club, was then denied by an offside flag and Arsenal threw everything at Fulham in the closing stages. Henry was inches away from converting Justin Hoyte’s cross and Wenger even waved Lehmann forward for a corner but the Gunners couldn’t avert a third successive away defeat.

FULHAM (4-5-1): Niemi; Volz, Rosenior, Christanval, Knight; Brown, Diop, C. Jensen, Radzinski (Routledge 45), Boa Morte; McBride (Helguson 76). Subs (not used): Lastuvka, Zakuani, John.

BOOKED: Brown, Rosenior, Boa Morte, Helguson.

GOALS: McBride (6), Radzinski (19).

ARSENAL (4-4-2): Lehmann; Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Flamini; Rosicky (Walcott 61), Song (Fabregas 45), Gilberto Silva, Hleb (Djourou 65); Henry, van Persie. Subs (not used): Almunia, Adebayor.

BOOKED: Song, Senderos, Rosicky, Van Persie, Flamini.

SENT OFF: Senderos.

GOAL: van Persie (36).

REFEREE: Howard Webb (South Yorkshire).