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  • Stoke City 0-2 Fulham:Chris Baird great strike & free-kick

    Chris Baird was the unlikely hero for Fulham when he scored twice in seven minutes to grab a crucial victory against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Tuesday 28/12/2010 .
    It was Fulham’s first victory at Stoke since 1967 - and their first away win in the league for 26 games - as Mark Hughes’s men moved out of the relegation places with a battling performance.

    They got off to a fantastic start with two goals in the opening eleven minutes thanks to Baird, who had never previously scored for Fulham.

    For the first, Simon Davies sent in a cross from the left and Robert Huth’s headed clearance fell to Baird on the edge of the box before smashing the ball past Asmir Begovic.

    It got better just six minutes later when he fired in a low free-kick on the edge of the box when it looked like Danny Murphy was about to strike the ball.

    Stoke responded well and Jermaine Pennant was proving to be main threat for the home side, teasing the Fulham defence with some delightful crosses.

    Kenwyne Jones went close with a header on 19 minutes, rising above Brede Hangeland from a corner, but his effort went narrowly over.

    Dean Whitehead then had an effort from the edge of the box for Stoke, before Dickson Etuhu nearly got a third for Fulham on the half-hour mark.

    Rory Delap was up to his usual tricks with some dangerous long-throws causing problems for Fulham’s defence, but Mark Schwarzer stood firm to avert any danger.

    The home side nearly got a goal back before half-time when Ryan Shawcross headed towards goal from a corner, but Murphy was in the right place to clear off the line.

    Tony Pulis made an early change in the second half for Stoke, bringing on Ricardo Fuller, as they looked to get back into the game as soon as possible.

    Matthew Etherington thought his side should have had a penalty on the hour when his shot on the edge of the box looked to have struck the arm of Hangeland, but referee Kevin Friend waved away the protests.

    On 71 minutes, Stoke had their best chance through Robert Huth. After Fuller cut inside from the right byline, he played the ball back to the defender, whose shot was beaten away by the Australian goalkeeper.

    Then ten minutes later Fuller should have got a goal back after beating the offside trap, but the ball wouldn’t fall for him and Fulham managed to clear the ball.

    Minutes later, the lively Pennant went close with a low shot inside the box, but Hangeland was there to make a last-ditch block as the ball looked to be heading for the far corner of the goal.

    Fulham managed to keep possession of the ball in the last few moments of the match but they held on to grab a vital away victory and three points.
    Mark Ritson / Eurosport


    Team Line-up:

    Soke City:Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Collins, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington, Walters, Jones. Subs: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Whelan, Gudjohnsen, Fuller, Wilson, Sanli.
    Fulham:Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Baird, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Duff, Dempsey, Andrew Johnson. Subs: Stockdale, Salcido, Gera, Kamara, Dikgacoi, Greening, Halliche.


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