Fulham unearth gem as Pogrebnyak sinks Stoke
Fulham 2 Stoke City 1
Sunday 12 February 2012
He wears bright lime-and-orange boots but Fulham's newest signing may end up standing out for his goals and not just his footwear. Pavel Pogrebnyak is not easy to say, but if he produces more strikes such as the one that set the Cottagers on their way to victory over Stoke yesterday, then everyone will get enough practice in pronouncing it.
The Russian forward, who signed last month on loan until the end of the season from Stuttgart, took only 16 minutes to make his mark on his debut and immediately demonstrated his speed of mind and foot. John Arne Riise set himself up for a powerful shot that he pulled low in the direction of his team-mate. Pogrebnyak, standing on the penalty spot, controlled the Norwegian's effort with his right foot and moved it on to his left, curling his shot calmly into the top corner.
Pogrebnyak, 28, is no mug, as three years in the Bundesliga and this goal can prove. He will play in Euro 2012 with Russia and won the Uefa Cup with Zenit St Petersburg four years ago. Martin Jol, the Fulham manager, may well have picked up a gem as he reshapes his forward line after Bobby Zamora's sale to QPR.
Jol, who knew the Russian from his time as manager at Hamburg, said: "Pavel was fit, he got his work permit, and we don't have a lot of No 9s at this club. He was keen to start.
"You always have to wait and see if someone from abroad fits in but it was a very good thing we had him lined up to come in on loan. Most want permanent deals. He said OK, I can play for four or five months and then we see. He realised it was a different league but he can cope."
Stoke appeared dazed and confused by that goal and were directionless for most of the match. Only Ryan Shawcross's headed near-post goal, 12 minutes from time, led to the inevitable pounding of Fulham's penalty area. Prior to that Mark Schwarzer had led an undisturbed life in the Fulham goal, well shielded by Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland, but Stoke's typical aggression was notable by its absence.
After Pogrebnyak's goal, Clint Dempsey doubled the lead with one that was just as impressive. The American moved forward unchallenged, and from 30 yards out thrashed his shot past Thomas Sorensen. His shot twanged the crossbar and then hit the Dane on his back, causing it to roll over the goal-line. Technically an own goal, but morally it was Dempsey's and it was enough to condemn Tony Pulis's side to their third League defeat in a row and fourth in five League games.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Dembélé, Murphy (Etuhu, 80), Dempsey; Ruiz, Pogrebnyak (Davies, 62).
Stoke (4-4-2): Sorensen; Wilson; Shawcross, Upson(Pennant, 67), Wilkinson (Shotton, 68); Walters, Whelan, Palacios, Etherington; Jones (Fuller, 66), Crouch.
Referee Chris Foy.
Man of the match Murphy (Fulham).
Match rating 6/10.
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