Premier League - Rodallega gives Fulham vital win over fellow-strugglers Norwich

Premier League, Craven Cottage – Fulham 1 (Rodallega 40) Norwich City 0

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Premier League - Rodallega gives Fulham vital win over fellow-strugglers Norwich
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Hugo Rodallega celebrates scoring for Fulham against Nowich (PA Photos)

Hugo Rodallega’s second goal in successive games gave Fulham a crucial 1-0 victory over fellow relegation-battlers Norwich City in a tense encounter at Craven Cottage.

Rodallega pounced with a clinical half-volley to meet a free kick from Lewis Holtby from close range as the hosts scored against the run of play following a series of clear-cut chances from the Canaries with Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale in inspired form.

Robert Snodgrass struck the crossbar with a fierce free kick in the first half while Stockdale made a succession of fine saves, but Fulham were able to preserve their slender advantage as Felix Magath claimed another hugely significant win for the London side - a second on the bounce for only the second time this season.

Neil Adams was thrust into the limelight as he replaced the sacked Chris Hughton as Norwich boss for the vital clash, but he was unable to inspire his players to breach a dogged Fulham defence in a second half lacking in quality.

The hard-fought victory moves Fulham to within two points of Adams’s ailing side with just four games left with the two teams occupying the places either side of the relegation zone.

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KEY MOMENTS

PRE-MATCH: Neil Adams did not mess about in making six changes from Chris Hughton’s last match in charge of the Canaries. Felix Magath, meanwhile, settled with bringing in Rodallega.

18’ – BIG CHANCE FOR FULHAM: What a chance for Rodallega! Sidwell knocks the ball on to the forward who only has Ruddy to beat, but his diving header is very tame and straight at the goalkeeper! He really should have done better there.

28’ – STUNNING SAVE FROM STOCKDALE: Stockdale makes a blinding save to prevent Norwich from taking the lead and he denies van Wolfswinkel with a stunning reflex stop after the striker hooks a loose ball on target. The Fulham keeper is in inspired form as he flies to his right to tip away another close-range effort from Norwich from the resulting corner and this time it's Snodgrass who is denied.

33’ - SNODGRASS HITS THE BAR: Norwich are having terrible bad luck so far in this match and it gets worse as Snodgrass crashes a very fine free kick against the crossbar with Stockdale finally beaten! It's not going their way with Fulham getting very fortunate indeed.

40’ – GOAL FOR FULHAM: Rodallega gives Fulham the lead with a close range half-volley to send Craven Cottage into delirium! Just before half-time and very much against the run of play, Fulham lead. It all came from that ridiculous free kick conceded by Whittaker and the visitors are punished! Holtby delivered the free kick from the left with Sidwell getting a faint glance on the ball.

54’ - CLEARED OFF THE LINE: Rodallega meets a corner from Holtby with a powerful header down towards the far post, but Olsson is on hand to turn the ball wide with a very timely clearance off the line! That could very easily have been two for Fulham.

TALKING POINT: Will Norwich regret sacking Hughton? At such a crucial stage in the season, it was Magath’s settled Fulham side who looked confident and composed, while Adams failed to make an impact after stepping in at such short notice.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND PLAYER RATINGS

KEY STATS

Ricky Van Wolfswinkel clicked over 20 hours without a Premier League goal.

Now none of Fulham’s last 46 Premier League games have ended goalless – the longest current run of all Premier League teams.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Steve Sidwell (Fulham): The Fulham midfielder was everywhere for his side in a dominant performance that was required in such a big game. Supporting Rodallega one minute and protecting his back four the next, it was a quite brilliant all-round display.

PLAYER RATINGS

Fulham: Stockdale 8; Heitinga 7, Hangeland 8, Amorebieta 7, Richardson 6; Kasami 6, Riether 7, Diarra 7, Sidwell 8, Holtby 7; Rodallega 8. Subs: Kvist 6, Parker 7, Dejagah 6.

Norwich: Ruddy 6; Whittaker 5, Martin 6, Turner 6, Olsson 6; Redmond 6, Johnson 5, Fer 5, Howson 6, Snodgrass 7; van Wolfswinkel 5. Subs: Hoolahan 6, Hooper 6.

THE MATCH IN A TWEET

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