Fulham 3-0 West Brom

Dimitar Berbatov slots in his first Fulham goal
Dimitar Berbatov slots in his first Fulham goal

Dimitar Berbatov scored twice in a dream home debut as Fulham ended 10-man West Bromwich Albion's unbeaten start to the new Premier League season.

The Bulgarian striker superbly stroked Martin Jol's men ahead, before doubling their advantage from the penalty spot in first-half injury time.

Albion's Peter Odemwingie was sent off between Berbatov's strikes after kicking out at Fulham's Sascha Riether.

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Jol on 'great afternoon'

The hosts wrapped up a comfortable win with Steve Sidwell's late tap-in.

Berbatov was described as the "biggest signing in Fulham's history" by boss Martin Jol following his deadline-day move from Manchester United and the 31-year-old, who can often frustrate supporters with the languid manner in which he plays, went some way to justifying his manager's bold declaration with an energetic performance.

He was the focal point for much of Fulham's attacking play, aiming to use his deft touch to bring his team-mates into play and pull apart an Albion defence which had conceded just once in their first three Premier League games.

However, it was the trickery of Swedish winger Alex Kacaniklic which created the openings from which Berbatov profited.

Kacaniklic danced into the left side of Albion's penalty area, leaving behind dazed right-back Billy Jones, before playing a square pass to Berbatov, who took one touch before arrowing a delightful 15-yard shot beyond away goalkeeper Ben Foster for the opener.

Jones was left in a spin again shortly before half-time when he could only stop Kacaniklic's teasing run into the box with a trailing leg and Berbatov stepped up to coolly send Foster the wrong way from the penalty spot.

While Berbatov was undoubtedly the hero for the hosts, Albion winger Odemwingie could be cast as the away side's villain after his needless 37th-minute sending off.

The Nigerian forward, who had been promoted to the Baggies' starting XI following an impressive substitute appearance in their 2-0 win over Everton, lost possession before wildly swiping at Fulham right-back Riether from behind.

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WBA started too slowly - Clarke

Referee Roger East had no option other than to show the red card and it left Albion facing an uphill task as they looked to extend their best start to a Premier League season to a fourth match without defeat.

Albion boss Steve Clarke introduced Chris Brunt and Romelu Lukaku at the interval in the hope of finding a way back into the match.

Belgian striker Lukaku was denied by Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer as Albion battled gamely, but Fulham took advantage as the tiring West Brom defence began to creak.

Foster showed superb reactions to twice deny Damien Duff in a matter of seconds, before the ex-England international prevented Berbatov bagging his hat-trick by smothering his shot from a tight angle.

But he was powerless to stop Sidwell adding the third, pouncing after Hugo Rodallega's header hit the crossbar, to leave Albion without a win at Craven Cottage since October 1967.

Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov:

"It was a great home debut. I had a feeling before the game that it would be a good day for the team and me. And it's a great feeling. I feel satisfied with the result and my play, and all the supporters are happy as well.

"It was my first performance at home and I felt good because I was on the pitch playing. When I'm happy great things happen, like today. I scored and played with a smile on my face. Most important for me is playing every game and when I can do that I give my best performances."

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