Fulham 2 Aston Villa 0: Dimitar Berbatov has full backing from Rene Meulensteen despite exit rumours

Berbatov's agent has claimed that the Bulgarian wants to leave in January but he remained calm to convert a penalty during crucial win for Cottagers

Dimitar Berbatov has Rene Meulensteen's full trust to spearhead Fulham's drive for Barclays Premier League survival.

New boss Meulensteen hailed striker Berbatov, who is agitating for a move away from Craven Cottage in the January window, for having a hand in both goals in Fulham's 2-0 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday.

Berbatov teed up Steve Sidwell for his third goal of the campaign, making the midfielder Fulham's top scorer in the Premier League.

Then the Bulgarian forward coolly rolled a penalty past Brad Guzan as Fulham took control well before half-time.

Meulensteen said he never worries about Berbatov's languid approach to penalty-taking, or any other aspect of the 32-year-old's play.

He said: "You have to stay calm when he does that.

"I never thought for a second about it in that respect, because it's very clear: he's the man that takes the penalties, he takes the responsibility, and he's put it away.

"I trust all my players."

Villa manager Paul Lambert lamented an unsuccessful penalty appeal late in the second half, when Aaron Hughes challenged Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Meulensteen admitted he would have been annoyed to see a Fulham appeal rejected in similar circumstances.

He said: "Football, one, is about decisions, and two, about opinions.

"We got given one with Alex (Kacaniklic) brought down in the box that we took.

"If we had a similar incident to the one Aston Villa had we would have been disappointed if we wouldn't have got it.

"I do think looking at it that Aaron definitely wanted to play the ball, but obviously it's (referee) Mike Dean's decision and he didn't give it."

Villa boss Lambert was disappointed to see his side's five-game unbeaten streak come to an abrupt end.

But he said he could not fault his players for their effort.

He said: "We looked tired: it looked a tired performance after the other night.

"But I couldn't fault my players for effort.

"We just never got going, but the decisions that came up helped them a wee bit.

"We have been excellent to go five games unbeaten in this league.

"Going to Southampton and winning was a massive result for us.

"But sometimes you've got to hold your hands up, and then move on."

PA

Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone