Bobby Zamora scored the goal that moved Fulham up to eighth place, but he was not a happy man. At the final whistle he sprinted from one end of the pitch to the other to leave the scene without joining in his team-mates' celebrations.
Yet that was nothing compared to his bizarre reaction to his seventh-minute goal that had decided this diverting game. John Pantsil, who had a fine game, crossed from the right and Zamora appeared between dozy Sunderland defenders Phil Bardsley and Michael Turner to head into the bottom corner.
The goal sparked an angry celebration from Zamora, who turned to shout expletives towards the Fulham fans 100 yards away in the Hammersmith end of the ground. From television replays he appeared to be saying, 'Shut your fucking mouths' repeatedly. Zamora was so keen to get his message across to a section of the home support he shoved away his team-mates so he could bellow more abuse.
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said Zamora was responding to criticisms made on the internet. "Partly it was the frustration of not having scored as many goals as he'd have liked," Hodgson said. "And maybe he reads too many of these blogs that people write in to. Our fans in the Hammersmith End actually constantly chant his name. But these people who write into the club's blogs, they're the real experts and they want something that he's not been able to give them, ie 30 goals a year. But he has been a key player for us. Just a very good player."
The shouting was unnecessary as Zamora's performances – and also his goals – are making the case for him this season. Hodgson even went so far as to suggest that Zamora could do a job for England if Emile Heskey was injured. The 28-year-old often gets noticed for his misses rather than the chances he takes, but his tally of six goals so far is more than in the last two seasons combined. Zamora was also unfortunate not to score a second when his header made at full stretch rebounded off the crossbar.
Zamora's strike partner Erik Nevland was bright and busy, although his over-eager challenge on Anton Ferdinand ended the Sunderland defender's afternoon and was well worthy of the yellow card it received. The Norwegian was also guilty of a glaring miss following a Clint Dempsey free kick. First Nevland shot straight at Sunderland keeper Marton Fulop, and then he fired the rebound over the bar.
Sunderland lifted their game after a woeful first half, but still could do nothing to improve their away record which now stands at seven games since their last win on their travels.
Chairman Niall Quinn was sitting next to nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova, who knows a bit about winning in London. Unfortunately for Navratilova and the other Sunderland fans, Darren Bent had one of those days when he could not hit the target, firing two decent chances wide of the mark.
Kenwyne Jones was gifted a straightforward chance to equalise from Paul Konchesky's misplaced back-pass but aimed too close to Mark Schwarzer. Sunderland's challenge petered out as the minutes ticked down, but in the final moments Schwarzer had to dive low to his left to keep out a long-range effort from Bolo Zenden.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce hinted he will be active in the January transfer window. Bruce said: "We've got to do something away from home to get this monkey off our backs. But you won't win a game in the Premier League if you play like we did in the first half. I don't remember a side this Jekyll and Hyde, and it's pretty alarming. I'll have to do something about it.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Duff, Baird, Greening (Dikgacoi 86), Dempsey; Nevland (Gera 68), Zamora. Substitutes not used: Zuberbuhler (gk), Seol Ki-Hyeon, Murphy, Riise, Smalling
Sunderland (4-4-2): Fulop; Bardsley, Tuner, Ferdinand (Nosworthy 30), Richardson; Malbranque (Campbell 70), Cana, Henderson, Reid; Jones (Zenden 74), Bent. Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Zenden, Campbell, Murphy, Da Silva, Healy
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).
Booked: Fulham Nevland Sunderland Richardson, Bardsley.
Man of the Match: Zamora.
Attendance: 23,168.Reuse content