Fulham 2-1 West Ham: Kevin Nolan red card allows Fulham to ease by (video)

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A level head from Kevin Nolan before halftime would have probably seen West Ham through, but instead he lost his cool and doomed his side to defeat with Fulham capitalizing for a big 3 points at Craven Cottage.

A pair of first-half goals cancelled out, and Nolan was sent off, allowing Fulham to grab a winner early in the second half through embattled striker Dimitar Berbatov.

Berbatov’s support was bright, getting a pair of chances in the first six minutes, but he was just offsides both times.

It was West Ham who would strike first however, on the break with Mohamed Diame getting the ball in traffic in the middle of the box, but no defenders challenge him tightly and his cut shot ripped past everyone for a seventh-minute opener.

The ball came all the way from Jussi Jaaskelainen in goal, with the keeper picking up an assist.

Fulham slowly built an attack, with some fantastic passing only halted again by the offsides flag in the 20th minute.

They needed help at the back again, however, as David Stockdale bailed out some more disastrous defending in the 24th minute and saved well from a free header by Kevin Nolan.

source: Getty Images
Steve Sidwell’s header on a corner allowed Fulham to draw level after West Ham’s early opener.

Fulham went back down and had another shot, a brilliant touch from Berbatov to flick on a cross but it was saved by Jaaskelainen. They pressed further for an equalizer, as Modibo Maiga cleared off the line when Fernando Amorebieta put a header on net off a corner.

It would be a corner that doomed West Ham’s lead though, as Steve Sidwell connected to put the header into the ground and up into the back of the net in the 32nd minute.

The equalizer transformed the home side into the aggressors, and Adel Taarabt hit the post just a minute later.

It would all change just a minute before the break, with Kevin Nolan completely needlessly tackling Amorebieta off the ball, and referee Mike Dean showed him a straight red card.

Fulham came out of the break pressing a man up, and it forced Jaaskelainen into serious work early.  The wet pitch played havoc with the attackers but they would finally get their goal for all the attacking play.

Alex Kacaniklic crossed the ball from the left edge of the box into the middle, and with Fulham having a numbers advantage in the penalty area, Scott Parker’s shot deflected and fell to Berbatov who tapped into the corner easily for the 2-1 lead.

West Ham slowly brought themselves back into possession, threatening a bit, and the Fulham defense again looked leaky but it wouldn’t come to pass for the visitors.

(MORE: Barclays Premier League standings)

The win pushes Fulham up to 15th pending other results, out of the relegation zone for the first time in months.  Sam Allardyce will likely face additional pressure now after the West Ham loss, with just one win in their last 10.

GOALS:

Fulham – Sidwell 32′; Berbatov 66′
West Ham – Diame 7′

RED CARDS:

West Ham – Nolan 44′

LINEUPS:

Fulham – Stockdale; Riether, Amorebieta, Senderos, Riise; Duff (Kasami 78′), Parker, Sidwell, Richardson (Richardson 56′); Taarabt (Bent 69′), Berbatov.

West Ham – Jaaskelainen, Demel, O’Brien, McCartney, Diarra, Noble (Rat 32′), Collison, Nolan, Diame (Downing 56′), Taylor, Maiga (Cole 69′).