Two classy sides but Fulham come out on top - Fulham 2-1 Wigan Athletic

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: Philippe Senderos of Fulham celebrates scoring the winning goal with team mates Mahamadou Diarra (L) and Moussa Dembele during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Wigan Athletic at Craven Cottage on April 21, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The meeting of two, of late, distinctively creative forces promised much and it didn't disappoint. That the football on show was incisively neat was testament to these two sides. While Wigan Athletic struggle in the leauge, they are still prepared to play expressively and with Roberto Martinez's dynamic formation escapades into the abyss, Martin Jol may not have known what to expect.

That theory was proven right as Emmerson Boyce fired Wigan into a second half lead but, in truth, the home side always had an edge on their relegation-threatened opponents and such was reflected in the final scoreline. Fulham turned it around, but few expected Phillipe Senderos to be the saviour.

Andrew Johnson was a surprise exclusion from Jol's line-up after the former Crystal Palace forward had returned from injury, but some of the frowns were subsided with the news that Pavel Pogrebnyak would lead the line. He was in search of his sixth goal in Fulham colours.

There was a penalty row early on, setting the tone for a month in football that has damningly highlighted some of the palpable flaws in officiating, but this time there was an element of authenticity behind Lee Mason's decision not to award. Clint Dempsey was indeed brought down but inside the box it wasn't - though Mason eventually ordered a goal kick. He was halfway there - it was still a foul.

Soon after, Damien Duff was left cursing his sacred left foot. Following a free-kick, captain Danny Murphy offered the Irishman a resplendent pull back but it ended up high above the goal. Wigan pressed in return but a Victor Moses effort only half-heartedly tested Mark Schwarzer.

Fulham continued to press throughout the first half, Pogrebnyak, Brede Hangeland and John Arne Riise all spurning decent opportunities. Martinez's side almost had the last laugh of the half, however, with Moses breaking away and finding team mate Jordi Gomez. The Spaniard forced a good save from Schwarzer and the sides went in level.

After the interval, both teams struggled to get a footing and even as Wigan took a worrying lead, they couldn't hold onto it for long. Boyce scored the goal, drilling home what was a fine strike for any player - never mind a defender. Pogrebnyak was having none of it though, scoring an equally sublime effort after firing home after a turn. He wrong-footed Ali Al Habsi and suddenly we were back to square one.

After the equaliser, which had taken only sixty seconds to score, Fulham dominated and Pogrebnyak was clearly in the mood for goals. He nearly grabbed one after connecting with a Riise cross and the Russian seemed content that he had. The effort hit the underside of the bar, however, and upon noticing, head met hands.

He hit the woodwork yet again and the feeling resonated that this wouldn't quote be a Fulham afternoon. Then again, anything's possible when you have Phillipe Senderos. Riise was again creating chances, this time from a set piece, and our Swiss defender rose highest.

Who would have thought, four months ago, that the game against Liverpool in early May would carry such significance as we battle to claim eighth place? And, it's worth noting, who would have thought that, really, a defeat for Wigan here wouldn't blemish their survival hopes quite so severely? Credit is due to both these somewhat classy sides.

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