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  • Fulham 3-2 Westham: Dempsey beautiful-strike, Okaka scored

    An own-goal from Carlton Cole helped Fulham to a 3-2 win at Craven Cottage that delayed the confirmation of West Ham's survival.

    Hammers striker Cole (pictured) scored at both ends while, with Fulham leading 3-1, substitute Guillermo Franco netted a consolation for the visitors deep into injury time.

    Clint Dempsey and Stefano Okaka were on target for the hosts.

    The East Londoners are effectively safe due to a far superior goal difference to third-bottom Hull City, but Gianfranco Zola’s side must wait until the doomed Tigers face Wigan on Monday to make relegation mathematically impossible.

    The hosts fielded what is now their typical under strength domestic line-up, resting tired legs with a Europa League final against Atletico Madrid in 10 days, in what was an entertaining encounter between two relaxed sides.

    On seven minutes Bjorn-Helge Riise drilled a wicked ball across the face of goal that deserved a finish from Erik Nevland, with the Norwegian just lacking the legs to reach Dempsey’s through-ball a quarter of an hour later.

    West Ham had a flurry of chances, Mark Schwarzer saving well from Mark Noble and Matthew Upson nodding wide from the resultant corner.

    But Dempsey, whose fine season has been interrupted with injury, grew into the match and hit the crossbar with a dipping shot to remind West Ham that they were facing a formidable home force.

    And the American put his side ahead on the stroke of half-time in style, drilling low past Rob Green into the bottom left after a clever one-two with Simon Davies, who met Dempsey’s chest-down with a delightful through-ball.

    They doubled their lead just before the hour mark, but this goal came in comical fashion when Chris Baird’s wayward shot struck Cole on the shoulder and flew past the helpless Green.

    Cole atoned for his inadvertent error quickly enough, rising to flick Noble’s excellent free-kick from wide into the bottom right corner.

    West Ham pressed for a leveller but Fulham put the comeback to bed when, with 10 minutes left, substitute Okaka tapped Nevland’s low cross into an unguarded net after Jonathan Spector procrastinated to allow the Norwegian striker the freedom of the right.

    Franco pulled one back with a low finish after Scott Parker’s inch-perfect cut-back after he latched on to Noble’s pass on the right.

    With a minute of stoppage time left it mattered not one jot as Fulham sealed their 11th home win of the season.

    The result pushes Fulham to 10th in the standings, while West Ham stay 17th.
    Reda Maher / Eurosport



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