Martin Jol admitted he was mightily relieved after Fulham hung on to clinch a dramatic derby win over QPR at Craven Cottage tonight – as the Whites almost surrendered a three-goal lead.
The points looked safe after a Dimitar Berbatov brace and an own goal from Clint Hill put the home side three goals to the good after 41 minutes, but Adel Taraabt’s sensational solo goal just before the interval provided Rangers with a real shot in the arm. Loic Remy added a second after missing a penalty and things got even tenser after Steve Sidwell was sent off, with Fulham hanging on to gain revenge for December’s defeat at Loftus Road.
Speaking afterwards, Jol felt this west London derby was the archetypal game of two halves:
It was a great game for the spectators but it was two different halves. In the first half we played much better than them and we played some great football. But in the second half we probably made the mistakes they made in the first half.
At 3-1 you always know they will smell blood and their spirit was better in the second half. You shouldn’t concede a second goal but we did and we needed the keeper again to save the penalty. He’s a fantastic goalkeeper. So overall, we are a bit disappointed that we were 3-0 up and then made it a bit difficult for ourselves.
The Fulham manager felt Sidwell’s straight red for a challenge on Armand Traore was harsh and left his side hanging on towards the end.
The sending off was a bit harsh. He went for the ball and tried to pull his leg out of the tackle but he was red carded and that was difficult for us.
Much of the post-match praise went to Berbatov for another brilliant performance and Jol highlighted his striker’s all-round display rather than just his deadly finishes.
He worked ever so hard; that is what we like. You saw the penalty kick, he’s a specialist, and for the second, Damien Duff intercepted the ball and Dimitar scored again. He’s got 13 goals and he’s a special player for us.
The Fulham manager isn’t yet completely convinced that his side are safe, but has begun to consider the possibility of moving even further up the Premier League table.
We had three unexpected points against Tottenham Hotspur but we always felt this game against QPR would be vital. Hopefully 39 will be enough but it’s the only competition in the world where you can be 10th and still go down. There are a few clubs above us but we have a game in hand and hopefully we can go a bit higher in the league.