El Karkouri's header brings Christmas gloom for Fulham

Charlton Athletic 2 - Fulham 1
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The Independent Online

At this time of year it is customary to compile wish-lists and ordinarily a lethal, dead-eyed striker would be top of Charlton's right now. Yet it seems the south Londoners have no such needs as they have climbed to seventh place in the Premiership on the back of three consecutive wins, all achieved without a single goal from one of their forwards.

At this time of year it is customary to compile wish-lists and ordinarily a lethal, dead-eyed striker would be top of Charlton's right now. Yet it seems the south Londoners have no such needs as they have climbed to seventh place in the Premiership on the back of three consecutive wins, all achieved without a single goal from one of their forwards.

Here at The Valley, goals from Jerome Thomas and then Talal El Karkouri - midfielder and defender respectively - sealed a deserved victory for the south Londoners.

However, the players from the west side of the capital could have another uncomfortable time with their manager. Chris Coleman lambasted his Fulham players after a recent, limp home defeat and he may have to do so again for the effects were clearly short-lived.

A revival of four points in two games followed only for his charges to show they are recidivists. Despite Tomasz Radzinski's goal eight minutes from time they again lost without much of a fight here, meaning that the relegation zone still remains too close for their comfort. This was the Cottagers' sixth league outing in a row without a victory and the memory of their brave draw with Manchester United eight days ago was all but erased by this failure.

Liam Rosenior was at fault for the goal that Fulham conceded against United before going on to have an otherwise impressive league debut, but the young defender was in difficulty here most of the evening.

After 27 minutes Shaun Bartlett, a striker forced to forage out by the right wing, hit a cross to the far post that Thomas controlled with ease when he should have been put under pressure by Rosenior. From all of six yards, it was a formality that the midfielder should find the net for his second league goal of the season, as good a way as any to celebrate signing a new contract.

With a poor first half out of the way, Charlton doubled their lead after 66 minutes. Danny Murphy had already unluckily hit the post when, from a free-kick, he supplied El Karkouri and from 10 yards out the Tunisian's header beat Edwin van der Sar. Murphy called that "a cushion", but they were still sitting quite comfortably even after Radzinski poked home from short range.

Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Kiely; Young, El Karkouri, Fortune, Hreidarsson; Rommedahl (Konchesky, 83), Kishishev, Holland, Murphy, Thomas (Euell, 88); Bartlett (Jeffers, 79). Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Hughes.

Fulham (4-4-2): Van der Sar; Rosenior, Pearce, Rehman, Bocanegra; Malbranque (Radzinski, 63), Legwinski (John, 73), Diop, Pembridge; Cole, McBride. Substitutes not used: Flitney (gk), Volz, Knight.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

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