Adrian Mariappa

Watford comes back to win at Crystal Palace (video)

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  • Cathcart own goal puts Palace ahead
  • Redemption for Cathcart makes it 1-1
  • Substitute Cleverley with rare goal to win it

Craig Cathcart scored for both sides, including an equalizer for his Hornets, as Watford beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Tom Cleverley scored Watford’s other goal as Javi Gracia‘s men used the comeback to climb into seventh with 32 points.

Palace stays in 14th place with 22 points.

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Watford hit consecutive posts in consecutive seconds through Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra, and will be wishing they did the same in their own end.

Palace went ahead of a wild goal mouth scramble that finished with Abdoulaye Doucoure smashing the ball off Craig Cathcart and into his own goal.

The Eagles could’ve gone ahead 2-0 when Luka Milivojevic‘s shot through traffic was blocked by the hand of a Watford man and was caught by Ben Foster, but no call arrived at Selhurst Park.

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Cathcart will have been pleased to reverse his o.g., even if he knew little about the first. This one had plenty of intent, a header over Wayne Hennessey with a little more than 20 minutes to play.

If you had Cleverley as your match-winner, well, that was an odd wager. He scored his second goal in the last two and a half seasons, the substitute potting a loose ball.

Palace fought hard for an equalizer, but Watford kept its spacing and managed a number of interventions in its own box.

Revisiting the ridiculousness of Pajtim Kasami’s goal (Video)

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How dare he!

That was the first thought that entered my mind watching Pajtim Kasami’s goal Monday and now, 16 hours later, my jaw is still on the ground.

That goal was outlandish. Ridiculous. Audacious. The kind of training ground attempt that would typically result in a shot going high and wide of the target by 50 feet.

But not last night. Last night Kasami executed the maneuver with razor sharp technique and the result – goal of the year (so far) in the Premier League.

What made Kasami’s goal so incredible? Let’s break it down.

First, his vision.

When the play begins Fulham right-back Sascha Riether has the ball in his own half and Kasami is standing in the middle of the center circle. To the casual observer, nothing out of the ordinary seems to be happening – but Kasami sees otherwise.

Mainly, he notices that Darren Bent drifts all the way to the right side of the pitch while Dimitar Berbatov remains in the center and that the Crystal Palace defense are man marking. This means that Adrian Mariappa and Damien Delaney have a 30 yard gap between the two of them.

In a split second, Kasami knows what he wants to do. With the ball at Riether’s foot, Kasami points to the space.

The second astounding element of the goal is Kasami’s run. Like a greyhound he bursts out of the gate and into the space created by the Palace center-backs. In just over four seconds Kasami’s diagonal move puts himself directly under Riether’s 40 yard ball.

Which brings us to part three of Kasami’s feat – the technique.

Still at full throttle, the ball is behind Kasami’s head as Mariappa swoops in to close him down. At this point, merely settling the ball and keeping possession would be impressive. But with his inertia heading towards the corner flag and his hips facing the right touchline, the 21 year old leaps in the air, pops the ball off his chest, squares his shoulders and unleashes a cross body right-footed volley from an impossible angle.

What!?!?!

How the ball ends up in the far corner is still perplexing.

The most impressive aspect of the goal, however, is that not a single part of that play can be considered lucky. Everything Kasami did, he meant to do. Scary stuff.

Following the goal there was a lot of chatter as to whether Kasami’s effort was better than Jack Wilshere’s strike against Norwich City on Saturday.

My take – and Wilshere’s as well, judging by his Tweet – Kasami’s goal was easily the better of the two. Mainly because it was the buildup to Wilshere’s goal – a pinball array of back heels and flicks that would leave Barcelona bowing in approval – that left us in a bliss, not the goal itself.

Wilshere’s was the better team goal, Kasami’s was the better individual goal. Apples and oranges but both fantastic pieces of work that we won’t soon be forgetting.

Crystal Palace 1-4 Fulham: Fulham flies over Eagles in relegation battle

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It took two moments of first-half brilliance to put Fulham up on Crystal Palace, but the Cottagers cruised to victory in the second half. The match finished 4-1, with Palace’s defensive woes burying it before the hour mark.

New Fulham owner Shahid Khan made his way to Selhurst Park, but the club didn’t do much to make a positive first impression. Jamaican defender Adrian Mariappa scored in the seventh minute, jumping higher than center back Brede Hangeland to head home a deflected cross on top of the six-yard box.

Hangeland, who is eight inches taller than Mariappa, made way at halftime, perhaps partly because of his error on the opening goal. Coming into the game, Fulham was winless in 25 league games when conceding first.

But Pajtim Kasami wasn’t scared. He drew the Cottagers level in the 19th minute, taking an aerial ball off his chest and smashing home a volley from a poor angle. After the ball looped to him on the right edge of the penalty area, he did not break stride with his first touch and twisting, right-footed volley.

Not to be outdone, Steve Sidwell gave Fulham the lead just before halftime. In the 45th minute, Bryan Ruiz hit the wall on a free kick, and the ball bounced straight down. After a large bounce, Sidwell lined it up about 22 yards from goal and smashed it into the top left-hand corner of the goal.

Of the four total shots on target in the first half, three ended up in the back of the net, including both of Fulham’s efforts.

The visitors kept up the pressure early in the second half. Palace goalkeeper Julián Speroni mis-hit a clearance in the 49th minute, striking an onrushing Dimitar Berbatov. Darren Bent picked up the loose ball, but Speroni saved face by pushing his shot wide for a corner.

On the ensuing set piece, Berbatov did what Bent could not, scoring his team’s third of the game. Mariappa jumped with him, but the Bulgarian managed to get his header on target despite the Jamaican’s arms all over him.

The next Fulham corner came to the same result. This time, it was Philippe Senderos who bundled home his effort to seal the result. Speroni was on the spot, but the ball sneaked under him and over the line.

Palace’s hopes for a comeback were extinguished in the 66th minute, when Dwight Gayle had a goal called back for offside. A poor touch from Fulham left back Kieran Richardson set up the opportunity when Damien Delaney nipped in a touch on top of the penalty area.

However, Gayle ran into the area far too early and was offside by about six yards. Home fans and players shouted for a penalty, as they thought Richardson took down Delaney illegally, but referee Lee Mason only blew his whistle for offside.

Kasami almost sealed the game with another world-class finish, but Speroni extended to his left to parry away the Swiss midfielder’s strike with the outside of his left foot from outside the penalty area. On the other end, Maarten Stekelenburg punched away a long-range effort from Dean Moxey in the 88th minute.

In the end, Martin Jol won the battle between two under-fire managers, his team good enough for a three-goal margin against Ian Holloway’s side. Palace remains in 19th place (one win, no draws, seven losses), while Fulham is tied for 13th with Aston Villa (3-1-4).

Lineups

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Julián Speroni — Dean Moxey, Damien Delaney, Adrian Mariappa, Joel Ward — Mile Jedinak, José Campaña (Jerome Thomas, 46), Stuart O’Keefe — Yannick Bolasie, Dwight Gayle (Kevin Phillips, 69), Jason Puncheon (Marouane Chamakh, 56)

Unused substitutes: Lewis Price — Danny Gabbidon, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Jimmy Kébé

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Maarten Stekelenburg — Kieran Richardson, Brede Hangeland (Fernando Amorebieta, 46), Philippe Senderos, Sascha Riether — Steve Sidwell, Scott Parker — Pajtim Kasami, Dimitar Berbatov (Hugo Rodallega, 90), Bryan Ruiz — Darren Bent (Damien Duff, 77)

Unused substitutes: David Stockdale — Elsad Zverotić, Giorgos Karagounis, Derek Boateng

Halftime: Two stunners put Fulham up, 2-1, on Crystal Palace

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Crystal Palace took an early lead, but Fulham tied it up soon after on a spectacular volley from Pajtim Kasami. It was the Swiss midfielder’s second goal of the season after his opening-day strike against Sunderland.

He took down an aerial pass on the right side of the penalty area border with Palace goalscorer Adrian Mariappa on his back. Kasami took the ball with his chest, twisted and fired into the net without breaking stride or pace. The ball fell to his weaker right foot, but it looked very strong as it powered the shot past Julián Speroni in goal.

On the stroke of halftime, Steve Sidwell did his best to one-up his teammate. After Costa Rican midfielder Bryan Ruiz hit the wall with his free kick, the deflection found Sidwell on top of the penalty area. He took his opportunity, smashing the ball into the top left-hand corner.

Mariappa’s early goal, a header on which the 5-foot, 10-inch defender out-jumped 6-foot, 6-inch Brede Hangeland, gave the 19th-placed team some belief, but Kasami and Sidwell erased it. The rest of the half progressed evenly, neither team threatening seriously aside from their goals.

First-half statistics, via FourFourTwo Stats Zone:

Attempts on goal — Palace 8-5 Fulham

Shots on target — 2-2

Crosses — 12-5

Attempted passes — 194-236

Final-third passes — 60-56

Passing accuracy — 75.3%-82.6%

Possession — 45.7%-54.3%

Watch the second half on NBCSN or streaming on NBC Live Extra.

Jamaican gives Crystal Palace early lead over Fulham

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The Premier League’s Monday night games have not been short on entertainment this season. This week, another early goal leaves the rest of the game looking very interesting.

One of two CONCACAF players in the starting lineups, Jamaican defender Adrian Mariappa, scored in the seventh minute for 19th-placed Crystal Palace. Fulham goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg was slow to react to a deflected cross and could not position himself to stop Mariappa’s header from six yards out.

For Palace, which has only one win all season, three points against a relegation rival would be vital. Mariappa has the Eagles on their way — but it’s still very early.

Watch the rest of the game on NBCSN or streaming on NBC Live Extra.