Fulham v Cardiff City - Premier League

Fulham 1-2 Cardiff City: Yet another late concession by Fulham as Cardiff claim away win (video)

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In their first away win in the top flight since 1961, Cardiff City grabbed all three points and could have sealed Martin Jol’s fate as (former?) Fulham manager.

At Craven Cottage – what used to be a West London fortress of sorts – Fulham have just a single win in the league since February and today conceded their third disastrous late goal already this season.

The bad news started early for Jol’s side as Scott Parker was forced off after just five minutes with an injury, replaced by 35-year-old Giorgis Karagounis.

The misery continued as shotty set-piece defending led to the opening goal for Cardiff in the 12th minute. A corner sent in to the far post saw Stephen Caulker beat Steve Sidwell in the air, connecting with a powerful header back into the near post for the score.

The goal caused Fulham to play even more frantic and desperate, and Cardiff picked their battles well on the pitch.

Already down a sub due to the injury, Jol may have felt his bosses breathing down his neck when he uncharacteristically produced a tactical sub in the 41st minute, replacing Alex Kacaniklic with Costa Rican captain Bryan Ruiz.

Wouldn’t you know, it paid off. Just five minutes following the substitution, Ruiz produced a brilliant goal out of nothing – something that has been mind-bogglingly absent from his game despite the obvious ability.

Ruiz received the ball from Riether at the top of the box and curled a wonderful ball around the keeper and into the top left corner, leaving David Marshall with nothing to do but watch and leveling the score at 1-1.

source: Getty ImagesThe second half popped back and forth, but there were not many serious threats on goal.  Despite Jol’s prematch warning to Cardiff, Darren Bent and Dimitar Berbatov did not link up as well as Fulham would have hoped, and Bent ended up with just one good chance all game.

The away side did bring a good passing ability to their midfield.  Gary Medel finished a fantastic 68/69 passing, and made 5 tackles and 3 interceptions in defense.

Pajtim Kasami had a good opportunity to give Fulham all three points late in the 83rd minute, as he brought the ball into the box on his own weaving through defenders, but he was closed down at the last minute and the defense forced a very weak finish. Kieran Richardson also went close in added time, as his cross flashed across the face, and although it eluded all Fulham frontmen, it almost found the far post and went it, but just missed.

That was when the axe came down for Fulham and possibly Jol. Cardiff substitute Jordan Mutch broke the home fans hearts with a brilliant goal in extra time out of nothing.

He won the ball on an arial challenge with Richardson, and he fired a thunderbolt into the top corner that even Zeus himself would be proud of.

The loss sends Cardiff home with their second win of the season and three points Malky Mackay will no doubt say he deserved.  For Fulham, they remain in dire straights now in 18th position, with just a single win on the season and countless points dropped late in matches.

Goals:

Fulham – Ruiz 45′
Cardiff – Caulker 12′, Mutch 90+3′

Lineups:

Fulham – Stockdale; Hangeland, Richardson, Riether, Amorebieta; Sidwell, Parker (Karagounis, 7′); Kasami, Kacaniklic (Ruiz, 41′), Berbatov; Bent (Taarabt, 84′).

Cardiff – Marshall; Taylor, Caulker, Turner, Theopile-Catherine; Medel, Whittingham, Bo-Kyung (Mutch, 56′), Gunnarsson; Campbell (Maynard, 72′), Odemwingie.

Allardyce on Palace’s “great victory” over Boro

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Sam Allardyce manager of Crystal Palace signals during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough at Selhurst Park on February 25, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
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Big Sam got a big win, and he knows it.

Two days after tearing into his players for not adapting to his system, the Crystal Palace boss was glowing with praise after the Eagles knocked off visiting Middlesbrough in a relegation six-pointer on Saturday.

[ MORE: Palace 1-0 Middlesbrough ]

The win lifts Palace out of the drop zone, a point ahead of Leicester City who plays Monday. Allardyce is shaping his own Premier League table and he’ll try to lift a sort of Bottom Seven trophy after the season

From the BBC:

“It’s a great victory. I think the two-week break helped us refocus and that showed – today they made a lot of very good decisions.

“The three points are important as it puts us in amongst the pack, out of the bottom three and a bit closer to Bournemouth.

“I see the bottom seven as the Premier League table we need to try and win. If we can achieve more then that would be great but we need to make next week’s game against West Brom a game to win.”

Crystal Palace have too much talent to be in this spot, and Allardyce’s acumen as a “never relegated” manager has not been questioned much despite the Eagles falling into a worse spot than they were when Alan Pardew was fired. Is this finally their move out of trouble, or just a clean sheet against a Boro team that can’t score?

Conte delighted with his ruthless Chelsea machine

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Chelsea are a machine.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The Blues beat Swansea City 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to 11 points as the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal are all on a weekend off due to the EFL Cup final.

Facing a stubborn Swansea side, Chelsea went ahead through the excellent Cesc Fabregas and even when they were pegged back right on half time through Fernando Llorente’s header you expected them to kick on win the game.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

They did just that as Antonio Conte‘s men were relentless throughout and goals from Pedro and Diego Costa late on made it 20 wins from 26 games this season as their title procession continues.

Speaking after the game, Conte was asked if this win was simply another step on their way to winning the title.

“Yeah, I think it is another step,” Conte said. “For sure a good game, a good win and it wasn’t easy to play against them because I watched Swansea’s games against Liverpool and City and they played very well. I think today we deserved, a lot, to win the game. We created many chances in the game, we dominated the game in the first half.

“It is a pity for the goal we conceded at the end of half time. In the second half we started again and created chances with Hazard and then Cesc hitting the crossbar. I am pleased because now, to play the ball is not easy because the season is going to end. In this moment it is very important to have the performance of my players.”

The Italian manager also admitted that a pivotal moment in the game went Chelsea’s way. With the score still locked at 1-1 with 20 minutes to Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s trickery saw Cesar Azpilicueta handle in the box. Referee Neil Swarbrick waved away the penalty calls but Conte admitted the ball hit Azpilicueta’s hand despite it being very close to Sigurdsson and perhaps unintentional.

Moments later Pedro scored to put Chelsea ahead as they powered to yet another victory, their 10th straight at home in the Premier League.

Nobody looks like catching this Chelsea side as Eden Hazard and Fabregas dazzled in the drizzle at Stamford Bridge and Costa was at his clinical best.

A brief defensive lapse aside, this was a dominant and well-deserved win against a dogged Swansea outfit.

In the words of Jay Z – “On to the next one.”

That’s a trip across London to West Ham on Mar. 6, as games against Stoke City and Crystal Palace follow. The way Conte’s side are playing and finishing teams off, they could have this thing all but sewn by April 1 when they face Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

Men In Blazers podcast: Pochettino, Lloris discuss “To Dare Is To Do”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur and Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur after the goalkeeper was substitued during the Premier League match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park on August 13, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Rog speaks with Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and head of coaching and development John McDermott in a preview of his film, “Premier League Download: Tottenham Hotspur: To Dare is to Do” which airs Sunday at 11 a.m. ET after Spurs vs. Stoke City on NBCSN.

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Watch Live: Watford vs. West Ham (Lineups, Stream)

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Troy Deeney of Watford (L) struggles to hold off Michail Antonio of West Ham United (R) during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Watford at Olympic Stadium on September 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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Vicarage Road is the scene for a Saturday afternoon clash between top half hopefuls West Ham United and Watford (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. EDT on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Irons have 32 points and the hopes of continuing an upward climb to the position they wanted back when this season began in August.

The Hornets are two points below West Ham, having dealt with a woeful stretch in form to climb back to within sight of 10th.

LINEUPS

Watford: Gomes; Janmaat, Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Cleverley, Behrami, Capoue; Zárate, Deeney, Niang. Subs: Arlauskis, Prödl, Cathcart, Zúñiga, Doucouré, Success, Okaka.

West Ham United: Randolph, Cresswell, Fonte, Reid, Antonio, Obiang, Kouyate, Noble, Snodgrass, Lanzini, Feghouli. Subs: Adrian, Byram, Masuaku, Collins, Fernandes, Ayew, Calleri.