- Fulham 3-2 QPR, Premier League
Fulham fend off spirited QPR fightback
Fulham almost threw victory away at Craven Cottage after edging out Queens Park Rangers 3-2 in a pulsating West London derby.
Martin Jol's side were cruising at 3-0 when Dimitar Berbatov struck twice and a Clint Hill own goal put the home side in command. However, QPR came fighting back with Adel Taarabt and Loic Remy, and when Steve Sidwell was dismissed for Fulham they were desperate to hear the full-time whistle.
And they managed to cling on to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone, and leave Harry Redknapp's team seven points adrift of safety in the table and in deep trouble with seven games remaining.
The hosts started brightest and, after early warning shots from Riise and Damien Duff, Samba thought he had thwarted Berbatov with a decent tackle inside the box.
However, the Rs defender had not accounted for Dejagah latching onto the loose ball and his late challenge on the winger saw referee Lee Probert point to the spot. Berbatov stepped up to take the resulting penalty and nonchalantly sent Cesar the wrong way to give Fulham an eighth-minute advantage.
Stephane Mbia had to be alert to stop Bryan Ruiz grabbing a quickfire second, before Hill received an early booking for a poor challenge on Giorgos Karagounis. Ruiz's effort from the resulting free-kick drifted just wide, before Berbatov somehow headed wide from close range.
QPR were failing to cope with the hosts, who would have had a second had Brede Hangeland not seen a glancing header blocked by the giant frame of Samba.
That good work was soon undone though, as the January signing again messed up spectacularly. Samba was caught out by the evergreen Duff, whose hassling saw the ball end up at Berbatov's feet, allowing him to burst into the box before finishing with aplomb.
Fulham fans were quick to goad their rivals, before a wayward Bobby Zamora strike saw the target of their ire aimed at their former striker.
Remy and Andros Townsend saw strikes deflect behind as QPR pushed for a response, with the latter also seeing a fierce drive go inches wide.
Fulham, though, were still in control and almost went further ahead through Jose Bosingwa after the Rs right-back almost turned a Berbatov cross into his own goal. And, after Urby Emanuelson replaced the injured Dejagah, things got worse for QPR.
Hangeland, showing the skill and poise not normally associated with a centre-back, directed a deft backheel into the path of Riise, whose driven cross was deflected home by Hill.
However, QPR gave themselves a glimmer of hope late in the first half when Taarabt ran at the hosts' backline before firing low past Schwarzer.
Nedum Onuoha came on for Hill for the start of second period, which the visitors started with renewed intensity.
Remy saw a shot deflect just wide ten seconds in and, after a strike was blocked by Hangeland, had a chance from the penalty spot in the 49th minute. Probert pointed to the spot after Karagounis was fooled by the quick feet of Taarabt, but Remy's penalty was saved to his left by Schwarzer.
The France international, though, soon made amends, losing marker Philippe Senderos and continuing forward before thrashing home off the underside of the bar.
Townsend saw a long-range shot saved soon after but QPR's pressure soon petered out, with Samba next to threaten with a snapshot 20 minutes from time.
Remy wasted a glorious chance to level after wriggling free in the box as QPR pressed for a leveller, which would have come from Zamora's boot had Schwarzer not got down low to save.
Fulham were on the ropes and their hopes of hanging on were made even tougher when Sidwell received a perhaps harsh straight red card for scything down Armand Traore.
Remy curled just wide as QPR pressed for an all-important leveller that never came, leaving their Premier League status in serious danger.