Vivacious Fulham beat Burnley 4-2 at Craven Cottage

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FULHAM 4 : 2 BURNLEY

By Steve Clare, Craven Cottage

Fulham gained their first league win of the season, having deservedly beaten Burnley 4-2 at Craven Cottage. While on occasions, it seemed they were trying to throw it away, the home side ran out worthy winners.

Alexander Mitrovic scored two headers, with Jean-Michael Seri and Andreas Schurrle also scoring. For an understandably weary Burnley, Jeff Hendrick and James Tarkowski netted first half goals.

The Clarets played in Athens in midweek and not even several changes could disguise a fatigue that many quietly hope will be augmented by an exit when Olympiakos come to Lancashire this week.

Jean-Michael Seri’s opener took just 196 seconds and was the best goal of the match, curling in a right footer from outside the box. The lead lasted seven minutes when Maxime Le Marchand gave the ball away needlessly, and not for the last time. Aaron Lennon hared up the field and found Hendrick who scored at the second attempt.

Two headers from Mitrovic within two minutes around the 37th minute. The first was a well placed header from a Vietto cross to which Hart reacted slowly. The latter came from an exquisite Tom Cairney cross after a Seri corner and  was a disaster for Joe Hart who should not have let Mitrovic win a header that close to him. Before half time however, James Tarkowski headed in Burnley’s second after Ben Mee prodded a corner into his path.

Fulham were the better side throughout the second half especially as Le Marchand’s nerves settled and Cairney continue to stroke the ball about with aplomb before leaving the field injured in the 79th minute.

Schurrle began increasingly to influence the game and had an incredible sixty second patch in which hit the Clarets’ bar, gave the ball away and tested Hart when his colleagues won it back. Shortly after, he was somewhat fortunate to see only a yellow for an ugly challenge on Ashley Westwood.

He also had Fulham’s best chance to bury the game but shot again at Hart. But finally got the goal he deserved when he reacted first after Mitrovic, himself seeking a hat-trick hit the post.

Fulham will be buoyed by their first points and even without Ryan Sessegnon who was benched and Floyd Ayite, Alfie Mawson and Tim Ream who are all still injured, looked a side that will take bigger scalps than Burnley.

“The best side won. That’s a good place to begin,” noted Burnley manager Sean Dyche before bemoaning a lack of quality in his final third.

“We had some really good moments without finding the killer edge.”

Slavisa Jokanovic reflected the anxiety of many of the home crowd when he said:

“I was so worried because we were waiting so long for the fourth goal”

In truth, Fulham should have put away this game much earlier, That is a tribute to both how strong they were and to a lesser extent a brittleness that Jokanovic may still feel he has to address.

Luckily, he has untapped resources to draw on.

Line ups:

Fulham XI: Bettinelli (GK), Odoi, McDonald, Fosu-Mensah, Vietto, Le Marchand, Bryan Chambers (72′), Cairney (c) (Anguissa 79′) , Schurrle (Sessegnon 86′) , Seri, Mitrovic,

Subs Unused: Fabri (GK), Chambers, Anguissa, Sessegnon, Kamara, Johansen, Christie

Burnley XI: Hart (GK), Lowton, Cork, Tarkowski, Gudmundsson (Taylor 19′), Mee (c), Ward (Barnes 65′), Lennon, Westwood, Hendrick, Wood (Vokes 65′)

Subs Unused: Heaton (GK), Gibson, Bardsley, Long

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