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Fulham got off to the worst possible start at Villa Park this afternoon by conceding a very soft early goal. Poor passing at the back culminated in Aaron Hughes hitting a dreadful backpass towards Mark Schwarzer and giving away a corner, which the Whites didn’t defend very well at all. Carlos Cuellar got a flick on at the near post and ball went in off a helpless John Pantsil.

The goal seemed to stun the visitors as Villa took control of the game. Ashley Young, who whipped in a terrific delivery for the goal, looked especially dangerous down the left and the recalled Steve Sidwell drove a rising shot over the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Roy Hodgson’s side gradually began to settle down but the best they could manage in terms of goalscoring opportunities were a couple of half-chances for Clint Dempsey. The American couldn’t divert his headers past his compatriot Brad Friedel and Fulham will be looking for better in the second half.