Bolton Wanderers 0 Fulham 3: match report
Read a full match report of the Premier League game between Bolton Wanderers and Fulham at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday April 7, 2012.Easy as one, two, three: Clint Dempsey (centre) is congratulated by Fulham team-mates John Arne Riise (left)
and Mahamadou Diarra after scoring in his side's straightforward defeat of Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok
Stadium Photo: ACTION IMAGES
Bolton’s recent revival came to a shuddering halt as Fulham essayed what in the end was a worryingly comfortable victory here at the Reebok Stadium.
Three consecutive Premier League wins for the first time since 2006 had lifted Owen Coyle’s team clear of the bottom three, but here was a dramatic return to their earlier, relegation-inviting form.
Clint Dempsey, who scored twice and should have celebrated a hat-trick, and his willing accomplice Damien Duff, who revelled in his duel with the unfortunate Marcos Alonso, were Fulham’s heroes in a fine team performance.
Dempsey’s 14th and 15th goals of the campaign gave him the best return by a Fulham player in the Premier League era – he has 21 in all – while Mahamadou Diarra completed the scoring 10 minutes from time.
Fulham manager Martin Jol, who thus saw his side pass the 40-point safety mark, said: “We felt that if we could get the ball out to Duff and to [Bryan] Ruiz on the left we could hurt them. We defended well and kept the ball at times. If you play good football, you score goals. It would probably have been his [Dempsey’s] first hat-trick away from home. He’s always on the end of things.”
Told that Dempsey’s tally in all competitions was now 21, he added: “If you consider that he scored most of his goals from wide positions, that is amazing.”
Bolton, who had played like a team inspired since their stricken team-mate Fabrice Muamba survived a cardiac arrest in the FA Cup tie at Tottenham, were never able to compete once they fell behind.
Coyle, having steered his side towards safety in recent weeks, admitted his disappointment: “We were looking to make it four on the trot, it was our chance to close the gap.”
Duff, who remained a threat throughout, cut in from the right to hit a low shot narrowly past Adam Bogdan’s left-hand post in an early warning that went unheeded.
Dempsey had the ball in the net after 23 minutes but was one of two players caught offside when Duff’s initial shot ricocheted in their direction.
The game at this stage was as lacklustre as the weather, a grey Reebok day that eventually benefited from pale sunshine, and Fulham’s football soon began to follow suit.
Dempsey, so often Bolton’s nemesis in the recent past, broke the deadlock with a finely-flighted free-kick after half an hour when David Ngog fouled Diarra 30 yards out. Bogdan had little chance to reach it. It meant Dempsey had scored in his last three games against Bolton.
The urgency and determination that had informed Bolton’s three previous league games was missing, and the crowd became noticeably restive well before the first half was finished.
Fulham dominated possession while Bolton struggled, and the visitors always looked likely to carve out another opportunity for Dempsey. It came almost on the stroke of half-time, the American unmarked as he headed in another good cross from Duff.
Substitute Chris Eagles curled a free-kick past the far post after the restart, but Bolton could not muster the kind of recovery that was required to rescue a point.
Dempsey spurned the chance of his hat-trick after a smart one-two with Alex Kacaniklic, while Duff, making Alonso’s afternoon a misery, almost scored at the near post.
But it was not until the 80th minute that John Arne Riise’s low driven cross was converted by Diarra, sliding in from close range, to start the home stands emptying.
Bolton (4-5-1): Bogdan; Ricketts, Wheater, Ream, Alonso; Miyaichi (Eagles h-t), M Davies, Pratley (K Davis h-t), Reo-Coker, Petrov; Ngog (Klasnic 60). Subs: Jaaskelainen (g), Steinsson, Knight, Sordell.
Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, J A Riise; Ruiz (Etuhu 72), Diarra, Kacaniklic (Trotta 88), Duff (Frei 83); Dembele; Dempsey.
Subs: Stockdale (g), Baird, Senderos, S Davies.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/premier-league/9188672/Bolton-Wanderers-0-Fulham-3-match-report.html