Everton 3 Fulham 1: Beattie profits from brain and brawn

Feeble display leaves Fulham in state of high anxiety and cursing Goodison's bad vibes
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The Independent Football

There are some grounds some clubs should avoid and, although they have given the impression that extends to every pitch outside Craven Cottage this season, for Fulham it is Goodison Park. They have never won a League match there, and on this display, they never will.

The last time they even got a point at Everton was in September 1959, so yesterday was a triumph of sorts. Only 3-1? Yes please. Except, if ever a team looked like they were bracing themselves for a late run at relegation it was Fulham.

This was their 12th defeat on their Premiership travels and although there have been grounds for suggesting their results have not matched their performances at times this season, there were no mitigating circumstances this time. Dreadful, insipid, you name it, they plundered every adjectival low in the Oxford English Dictionary.

The principal beneficiary was James Beattie, who out-jumped and out-hustled Fulham en route to getting two goals, the second of which was a delightful chip over Fulham's goalkeeper, Tony Warner. Add an assist for James McFadden's spectacular third, and it was a productive day for the Everton striker. Beattie was simply too strong for Fulham, but then Shaun Wright-Phillips would have fancied out-muscling the London visitors yesterday.

"He's getting the goals now that we thought he'd score when we brought him here," Alan Irvine, the Everton assistant manager, said of Beattie. "He was very good today, but it was difficult to find anyone who didn't play well. It was a very good performance." Could Everton make a late run for the Uefa Cup places? "It's not in our hands," Irvine replied, "but if we get the results in the next nine games that we've had in the last nine, we'll have a chance."

Given their grisly away record, Fulham's priority was to avoid making the mistakes that lead to early goals. Which meant they were on Plan B by the 15th minute, because Everton were gifted the advantage with a penalty. Beattie was given far too much room on the left and when Zat Knight tried to recover, he stumbled, clipping the striker's heel as he fell.

It was a clear penalty, no matter how unfortunate, and it was an emphatic end product, Beattie thumping the ball into the corner. It was typical Beattie - pace and power - but there is more to him than just a bulldozer and after 36 minutes he demonstrated an exquisite touch to get his second. Tim Cahill chested the ball back and Beattie chipped over Warner with a shot that Tiger Woods would have found hard to better with a wedge.

Fulham were a ragged outfit by the interval and they looked even worse after 55 minutes when Everton got another spectacular goal. Again it was Beattie who did the damage, winning the ball in the air and passing back to McFadden, who took one touch to steady himself before curling a left-foot shot over the bewildered and besieged Warner from 25 yards. The game was won but Fulham stirred themselves for the final 10 minutes, Collins John converting a penalty he had earned himself when brought down by Tony Hibbert. It gave the scoreline a respectability they scarcely deserved. "Unacceptable," was Fulham manager Chris Coleman's withering comment.