Fulham on track for record points after beating Sunderland

Fulham 2 Sunderland 1

Fulham remain on course for a record Premier League points haul after the ever-impressive Clint Dempsey spurred his side on to victory against Sunderland today.

Martin Jol will return to former club Tottenham on the last day of the season knowing the Cottagers lie one point shy of their previous record, secured under Roy Hodgson in the 2008/09 season.

If the west Londoners achieve the feat, much of the praise will be deservedly directed at Dempsey in a season that he has netted 23 goals in all competitions.

The United States international's future may be in doubt but it did not stop him scoring today, firing home a superb 25-yard free-kick after 12 minutes.

Phil Bardsley temporarily brought the visitors level with an excellent strike only for Fulham to respond immediately, with Mousa Dembele seeing a 20-yard strike take a slight deflection off Michael Turner as it flew home.

The introduction of substitutes Nicklas Bendtner and Frazier Campbell saw Sunderland end on a high but they could not find a way past Fulham, who secured their fifth win in seven games to leave them with a record-equalling seventh-place finish within grasp.

The Whites were boosted heading into the game by the return of manager Jol, who missed the recent trips to Everton and Liverpool through a chest infection.

The Dutchman brought Mahamadou Diarra in for Alex Kacaniklic to face Sunderland, who drafted in Ji Dong-won, Simon Mignolet and Craig Gardner into the starting line-up.

The visitors started brightly on the banks of the Thames but Fulham soon found their feet.

Having seen Pavel Pogrebnyak come close to connecting with a Damien Duff cross, the latter latched on to a superb long ball from the back only to see a well-struck effort smothered by Mignolet.

The early attacking impetus translated into the opening goal in the 12th minute when Fulham were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out.

Lee Cattermole blocked off Diarra and top scorer Dempsey stepped up to fire a right-footed effort with pace and swerve into the top corner.

The lead was almost wiped out four minutes later, though, as Stephane Sessegnon broke into the area, with only indecision and superb goalkeeping from Mark Schwarzer thwarting the Benin international.

The Cottagers were soon back on the offensive in search of a second, which would have come through Pogrebnyak had Turner not been alert to block his goalbound strike eight yards from goal.

The game burst into life after 34 minutes when Bardsley finished a move he started.

The defender burst forward and collected a Ji cutback to fire home a right-footed thunderbolt from outside the box.

Sunderland, though, were not celebrating for long as Dembele fired an instant reply.

The much-vaunted Belgian broke from the halfway line and unleashed a 20-yard effort that took a slight deflection off Turner and flew into the top left-hand corner.

The Cottagers were chomping at the bit as they looked for a third and Duff fired into the side-netting, before the visitors came close through a Gardner free-kick.

It was Fulham that ended the first half the stronger and they continued in the same vein after the restart.

Pogrebnyak saw an effort deflect behind by John O'Shea and only a goal-line clearance from Jack Colback prevented Dempsey scoring a deft curling effort from the resulting corner.

Right-back Stephen Kelly joined in with the action by testing Mignolet with a fierce drive, before the Sunderland goalkeeper got down well to parry a stinging Duff shot.

O'Neill brought on Bendtner for Ji in a bid to change the course of proceedings but Fulham were still on top, with Dempsey hitting the wall with a free-kick from a good position.

The Black Cats began to grow into the game following the introduction of the on-loan Arsenal striker, who was soon joined in attack by Campbell - on for Matthew Kilgallon.

The Whites were spending a lot of time on the back foot but came close to extending their lead when Dembele was put through one-on-one with Mignolet, although the Sunderland keeper produced a superb save.

The visitors returned to the attack immediately, though, as Campbell put through fellow substitute Bendtner, who could only curl wide when well placed.

The pair linked up again shortly afterwards as the latter's cushioned header set up Campbell, who could only lash wide from close range.

Turner headed straight at Schwarzer as Sunderland continued to press, before the hosts replaced Pogrebnyak and Murphy with Kerim Frei and Chris Baird.

Dembele saw a shot saved smartly by Mignolet as the clock wound down, before Schwarzer produced a superb save to prevent Campbell in stoppage time.

PA

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices