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Berbatov: Fulham felt ‘comfortable’

Dimitar Berbatov believed Fulham were always likely to hold onto their advantage in a topsy-turvy West London derby despite what he described as ‘childish’ second-half defending.

The Bulgarian striker had helped established the home side’s strong position in the contest with a quickfire double courtesy of two mistakes from Chris Samba. The QPR defender first felled Ashkan Dejagah to give away a penalty and then dallied on the ball in front of Damien Duff – and Berbatov freely admitted that he quickly targeted the error-prone centre back.

Yeah, you can see [players are nervous] sometimes. In the first couple of minutes you can see which players look nervous or [who] is having a bad game. So you try to push and press on them, which was the case with their player when we scored the second goal. You need to be clever in a situation like this because if you take advantage of them like you should, we score.

A second half slump almost saw Fulham squander their three-goal lead with the Whites indebted to goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer for two fine second half saves: the first from a Loic Remy penalty and a late stop from former Fulham forward Bobby Zamora. Berbatov, however, always felt his team were in control.

We weren’t nervous but we almost threw the game away. We had a comfortable lead in the first half – three goals is a lot – and the something in the second half, a bit childish maybe.

They scored the second goal and started to believe. But in the end we held onto the three goals we scored. We could have scored more but in the end three points was good for us.

The only time they can score is when we make a mistake, so the goal for them lifted their spirits. If you look back, you see mistakes and try to correct them next time, but now we’re going to celebrate the three points.

Berbatov also insisted that Sky Sports should have given the man-of-the-match award to Schwarzer after his goalkeeper’s fine display.

I think you should give [the man of the match award] to [Schwarzer], or I will be giving it to him in the dressing room, because it’s not the first time he’s saved a penalty. He’s a great goalkeeper and without him I don’t think we were going to win this game.

The 32 year-old was also quick to reaffirm that he’s happy at Craven Cottage and downplayed suggestions that Fulham were ever in any danger of going down themselves.

It’s great, I’m enjoying my football here. You can see it on the pitch, by the goals I score and the way I’m playing. It’s going great for me, and for the team, so I hope it continues this way.

We’ve always been safe. I don’t see why anyone should worry. We play good football and sometimes we make childish mistakes which is why we suffer, but if we correct this we will be even better.

Jol relieved after dramatic derby win

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.

Jol delighted by Fulham win

Fulham manager Martin Jol was delighted with his team’s ‘collective effort’ after they sprung a surprise by winning at White Hart Lane this afternoon.

The Dutch coach revelled in Fulham’s success after Dimitar Berbatov’s second half winner secured a precious three points for the visitors and blew the race for fourth place wide open. Jol admitted the victory was especially sweet after the manner of his departure as Tottenham boss:

It was a great win, that’s exactly what we needed. Especially being at White Hart Lane, to get a win is fantastic. It was a collective thing. In the first half we restricted them and in the second half we played ever so well and should have scored a second goal.

Twice Jermain [Defoe] had shots and the save [from Schwarzer] was incredible. Since the first of January we have had four wins, three draws and two defeats to the two Manchester clubs. We are doing well and in the top 10, that is good.

Richardson can prove a point at Sunderland

Kieran Richardson is ready to prove a point on his return to Sunderland with Fulham, according to his current manager Martin Jol.

The 28 year-old has struggled for form and fitness since leaving the Stadium of Light to return to London in August but Jol believes the versatile Richardson can recapture the displays that made him a Manchester United regular and won him six England caps. The Fulham manager will have a decision to make over the composition of his side this afternoon with Richardson available for selection again after spending a month on the sidelines – and it remains to be seen whether the former Sunderland man will be preferred to John Arne Riise at left back.

Jol has previously been quoted as saying that Richardson wasn’t sharp enough in the early stages of his Fulham career but he has supreme confidence in the versatile left-sided player – judging by the quotes from his pre-match press conference:

Kieran has been injured a bit but he is back now and will be involved in the squad. He is a versatile player who can play on the left, in midfield and left-back. He is a good player and has all the qualities. He had a good season with Steve Bruce at Sunderland when he was left-back, and should be terrific here. You can give him the licence there to express himself and he will be good, I have no doubt about that.

Richardson made 149 appearances – scoring fifteen goals – in his five years at Sunderland and is expected to be given a warm reception at the Stadium of Light. He has already made an impact with Fulham, scoring twice – his first goal coming as a substitute at Southampton and a long-range strike helping the Whites avoid FA Cup embarrassment at Blackpool.

Kacaniklic joins Burnley on loan

Fulham winger Alex Kacaniklic has joined Burnley on loan until the end of the season.

The Swedish international is Sean Dyche’s first signing since taking over at Turf Moor and has been reunited with 21 year-old after their successful spell together last season at Watford. Kacaniklic went straight into the Fulham first-team after spending two months with Dyche at Vicarage Road and the manager is delighted to add him to his Burnley squad:

He is an exciting young prospect and something different to what we have, which is important. He’s dynamic and can mix up his game. He was with us at Watford last year and was then called back and went into Fulham’s first team, which is obviously a good sign.

He has started this season in the Premier League and got himself a couple of goals. It’s a good link with Fulham. They know their player was looked after at Watford. He is aware of us as a staff and knows he will get looked after here. That’s one of the key things. We do look after players here. We look to develop our own and anyone who joins us.

The 21 year-old started the season as a regular in Martin Jol’s side and has made 22 appearances for Fulham this term, scoring four goals. Kacaniklic has struggled to make the starting line-up since Damien Duff returned to full fitness and, with the on-loan Urby Emmanuelson also pushing for a starting spot, Jol has opted to offer the youngster regular football in the Championship. Burnley currently sit thirteenth in the table, eight points off the play-offs and also eight points above the relegation places.

Kacaniklic is expected to go straight into the Burnley side for Saturday’s trip to Charlton.