Fulham eased their relegation fears with an entertaining 3-0 win over Bolton at Craven Cottage thanks to a brace from midfielder Clint Dempsey.
Brede Hangeland also got on the scoresheet for Fulham, the victory taking the west London club’s tally to 42 points – beyond the traditional benchmark of 40 normally needed for Premier League survival – while Mark Hughes’ side have now won six out of their last seven home games in the Premier League.
Visitors Bolton should have taken the lead in the opening minute, however midfielder Fabrice Muamba fired straight at Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from six yards out after Johan Elmander’s cheeky back-heel found him in space.
It was then on-loan striker Eidur Gudjohnsen’s turn to fluff his lines as he blazed over from a similar position after Dempsey’s drilled cross.
However Dempsey spared Gudjohnsen’s blushes with 15 minutes on the clock as he bagged his first of the match in spectacular fashion.
A Fulham corner was only partially cleared to defender Chris Baird, whose deflected cross found the American on the edge of the box and his powerful drive on the volley flew into the roof of the net.
Chung-Young Lee was proving lively down the Bolton right-wing and his cross was almost converted by Elmander, but the forward’s attempt with his left boot to connect with the ball was a fraction too late.
Baird then released Gudjohnsen yet with only Jussi Jaaskelainen to beat he fired his shot onto the base of the post as both sides could have had a handful of goals in the first half.
The second 45 minutes started in the same frantic way as the first as Moussa Dembele rattled the bar from range with a bullet of a strike, however the home fans did not have long to wait to cheer another goal.
Simon Davies scampered down the wing and crossed for Gudjohnsen, who cleverly flicked the ball on to Dempsey before lashing the ball into the net for his second of the night – and his 12th Premier League goal of the season.
Hangeland then completed the scoring after the towering centre-back easily out jumped Gary Cahill to head home Danny Murphy’s free-kick and propel Fulham into the top half on the table.
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