Fulham coast past West Brom
Bobby Zamora finally ended his goal-drought to help Fulham beat struggling West Bromwich Albion 2-0. Zamora bagged his first league goal since September with a close-range effort in the second half, before Andy Johnson added the second for Roy Hodgson's team at Craven Cottage. Aside from an FA Cup goal against non-league Kettering, this was former West Ham United forward Zamora's only repayment on his five million pounds transfer fee since a goal against Bolton 21 league games ago.
Fulham's win continued their impressive form at the Cottage, where they have won eight times this season, while Tony Mowbray's visitors look destined for relegation to the Championship. Johnson and Paul Konchesky returned to the Fulham line-up after missing the midweek defeat at Manchester United through injury.
The presence of Johnson seemed to galvanise Fulham in the early stages. The England forward won a free-kick after tricking Gianni Zuiverloon into a trip 25 yards from goal. Danny Murphy struck the set-piece brilliantly, curling his shot towards the near corner only for Scott Carson to tip the ball onto a post. Johnson threatened again when he collected a Simon Davies pass and sprinted towards goal. Leon Barnett lumbered across to challenge and Johnson tumbled as soon as there was contact, but referee Martin Atkinson waved away his penalty appeals.
Albion had a stroke of luck when Clint Dempsey fired in a long-range effort that swerved past Carson, only to crash against the crossbar. If Hodgson's side felt frustrated by the near-miss, they did not show it. Johnson and Zamora carved out another chance for Murphy and the former Liverpool midfielder bent his shot against the crossbar again.
The visitors almost gifted Fulham the lead when Barnett's diving headed clearance almost beat Carson, who had to scramble back towards his own goal line to clear. There was still time for Zamora to volley over a good chance before half-time.
Albion briefly showed signs of life when Marc Antoine-Fortune headed wide, before wasting an even better chance as he took too long to shoot. That was as good as it got for the visitors, as Zamora finally broke the deadlock in the 61st minute. Dickson Etuhu sent the ball in from the right, Johnson glanced the lightest of headers to the far post and Zamora touched home only his third goal of the season.
Fulham defender Brede Hangeland saw his header turned onto the crossbar by Carson but, with 72 minutes gone, Zamora set up the second goal. His shot was parried away by Carson into the path of Johnson who took a touch before slotting into the vacant net. Albion's misery was complete in stoppage time when Roman Bednar's penalty was pushed away by Mark Schwarzer.