Fulham 2-1 Norwich

Clint Dempsey scores Fulham's first goal
Dempsey played key role in Fulham's two goals

Fulham scored their first goals in four games as victory over Norwich halted a run of three successive defeats.

Clint Dempsey's thigh touched the ball home after John Ruddy was unable to hold Bryan Ruiz's shot for their first.

Within a quarter of an hour Fulham were two up as Dempsey set Damien Duff free with the winger curling the ball in.

Fulham twice hit the woodwork - through Dempsey and then Alex Kacaniklic - but Aaron Wilbraham's deflected shot set up a tense finish for the home team.

Martin Jol's men might be wondering quite why they made such hard work of killing off this game given they hit the woodwork twice, while Norwich goalkeeper Ruddy was probably the busier of the two goalkeepers - notably saving from John Arne Riise's powerful shot.

The introduction of Simeon Jackson at the start of the second half and then Wilbraham's appearance brought greater drive to Norwich, who were expertly marshalled in midfield by Wes Hoolahan.

If Norwich finished the game as they had started it - dominating possession - the end result each time was only frustration.

It was difficult to remember Fulham touching the ball in the opening two minutes but when Norwich conceded possession - debutant Ryan Bennett gave the ball away - the home team's riposte was immediate.

Brede Hangeland's clearance fell to Ruiz, who turned inside before striking a curling shot that Ruddy was only able to parry into the path of Dempsey, with the American's thigh doing the rest.

That pattern of Norwich enjoying plenty of possession but failing to maximise that advantage was replicated for Fulham's second.

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Points tally good enough after win - Jol

It was a goal that began with goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and after five Fulham passes, Dempsey slipped the ball through to Duff, whose curling, lofted shot proved too strong for Ruddy.

United States international Dempsey was a constant irritant to the Fulham defence and before the half was out he had hit the post after cleverly shielding the ball, with Moussa Dembele's follow-up shot superbly blocked by Bennett.

Fulham striker Pavel Pogrebnyak had to go off after 35 minutes to be replaced by Alex Kacaniklic after the Russian came off the worst following an Elliott Ward tackle.

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Norwich boss Paul Lambert pleased despite Fulham defeat

Pogrebnyak's absence was keenly felt in the second half, with Fulham missing the Russian's ability to hold the ball.

The first-half's closing stages marked an upshift in Norwich's ability to threaten the Fulham goal, with Ward flashing a shot wide after a corner and Jonny Howson breaking clear, though he too was unable to find the net with a left-footed effort.

After the restart Fulham hit the woodwork for a second time as Kacaniklic's beautifully-clipped shot ricocheted back off the crossbar.

Hoolahan's low shot almost brought Norwich back into the game, but his effort was partially saved by Schwarzer, with Aaron Hughes rushing across to bravely block the follow-up.

Hughes had less luck with 13 minutes to go after Wilbraham's shot hit the Fulham defender to wrong foot Schwarzer, but Martin Jol's side held off Norwich in those closing frantic stages to move them above Paul Lambert's side on goal difference.

Fulham manager Martin Jol: "The balance between our offensive and defensive play was good in the first half, but we couldn't get out in the second half.

"So in the second half they changed the formation and almost forced us to double up on the flanks and go back, and we couldn't get out of it.

"The points were very important for us. Pavel Pogrebnyak twisted his ankle but he should be back next weekend."

Norwich manager Paul Lambert: "We should have got something from the game. We were relentless in the second half.

"But you can't give teams two goals at the start. It's a mountain to climb from there. But the response was absolutely terrific. We went about it and tried to retrieve the game. In the second half I thought the lads were excellent."