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Nervy finish but Fulham stand firm - Fulham 2-1 Norwich

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A good start doesn't always guarantee success - something I am sure Manchester City can testify to - but as Fulham proved here, it sure does help. Being quick off the blocks isn't something Martin Jol's side is particularly famed for but it helped on this occasion, with Clint Dempsey and Damien Duff all but seeing the tie off within thirteen minutes.

Don't let that tarnish over what was an edgy performance, however, and the final whistle was far more a relief for the home fans than anything else. Norwich found a way back into the game in the second half as an Aaron Wilbraham shot deflected past Mark Schwarzer. A nervous finish ensued but the defensive pairing, which has become somewhat of a rarity, of Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland held firm and this win, formed more from the combative qualities of Fulham than their more intricate traits, will be cherished for its timing.

Fulham hadn't won in three matches and as Dempsey put it quite succinctly post match, "it's good to get back to winning ways."

Alex Kacaniklic made his Premier League debut for the club and impressed Jol in the process as he replaced an injured Pavel Pogrebnyak on 34 minutes. The young Swedish talent looked both composed and skilful in equal measure and looks set to make his mark on the first team.

Before Pogrebnyak's removal, though, Fulham had firmly established their grasp of the game. Dempsey opened the scoring on 2 minutes, responding quickest to a John Ruddy parry and he then turned provider as Duff doubled Fulham's lead. The American played a perfectly timed through ball to Duff and the Irishman finished the move astutely.

Norwich were certainly threatening, despite the scoreline, and their width was causing problems thanks to their 3-5-2 formation. Jonathan Howson nearly exposed Fulham and halved the deficit but fired wide from a good spot inside the area.

After the break, Kacaniklic nearly warmed himself to Fulham fans with immediate effect but his curling drive took an unfortunate voyage to the crossbar as opposed to Ruddy's net. The home side seemed to have a foothold in the game at this point but Paul Lambert's team were not sitting idly by.

The pressure built as the half went on and Wilbraham set up a tense finish with his strike on 74 minutes. Fulham did, of course, contain Norwich in the end but there was, yet again, the feeling around Craven Cottage that the job was made somewhat harder than it had to be.