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Fulham 1, Huddersfield Town 0

Football is the best and worse at the same time

Fulham FC v Huddersfield Town - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

It would be good for everyone involved to never watch sports ever again. It’s bad for your heart, soul and self esteem all at the same time when things go completely wrong. But on nights like tonight where all you can do is shake your head in disbelief, sports can be quite wonderful. I mean really, what in the living fuck was that?!?!

First, Fulham claimed a penalty after so much huffing and puffing in the second half thanks to a handball by Chris Lowe in the 81st minute. But instead of Aleksander Mitrovic taking the penalty, Aboubakar Kamara wrestled the ball away from every Fulham player that tried to convince him not to take it. To his credit, Mitrovic gave him a kiss on the cheek to wish him good luck after so much bickering beforehand, you could make a soap opera out of it. But all you needed to do was watch Kamara’s first step towards his shot on goal to see that there was no chance of him putting it past Jonas Lossl in front of the Hammersmith End. From there, Kamara officially became the most hated Fulham player in recent memory and I seriously don’t know how the Frenchmen will ever fully forgive his teammates, his manager and the supporters ever again for what he did. Should I mention he’s under contract for another two seasons?

Fortunately for him and everyone involved, there was enough time to claim a winner. On the one occasion in which Huddersfield ever decide to go on the break, a failed cross was swept away and Fulham countered quickly. From there, the ball eventually was released towards substitute Ryan Sessegnon who only had Mitrovic to pick out versus four defenders retreating. Fortunately, the Serbian sensation made the perfect run inside the penalty area and the teenage wonder did it again to pick a perfect pass to him. All Mitro needed to do was one-touch it home to sent Craven Cottage into delerium. The celebrations were more of relief more than of pure ecstasy. Kamara tried to join into the celebrations as muted as he could, but he only got quiet handshakes in return. Fortunately again, Mitrovic gave him some embrace.

All in all, it was another game of two halves as has been the case in every fixture since Claudio Ranieri introduced three at the back to Fulham. Huddersfield completely controlled the first half but only because Fulham didn’t even bothered to press at all. It was as if the whole of Southwest London didn’t recognize that this is what they’ve been doing all month long while completely neutering the attack in the process. But in the 291 completed passes by the Terriers, they were only met with nine defensive actions by Fulham.

Fortunately, Huddersfield continue to be one of the worst goal-scoring teams in Premier League history and none of their 65.5% possession resulted into anything. They may have had six total shots with four going on target for the opening 45 minutes, but the Terriers’ efforts only led to 0.17 expected goals. They would only get another 0.09 expected goals the rest of the contest.

Fulham clearly heard all of the River Thames booing them off the pitch at the end of the first half demanding a dominant performance when they returned. And boy did they deliver! But this was not without a few substitutions before the start of the second half: a Fulham tradition this football season. Alfie Mawson had to come off due to injury and was replaced by Maxime Le Marchand while the Seri-Cairney experiment didn’t work once again as one Frenchmen was replaced by another in Kamara.

Say what you want from here on out about Kamara as a player, but his presence alone on the pitch completely changed Fulham’s shape the rest of the game and a much more aggressive football club was released from its shackles as a result. This time, Huddersfield’s 126 completed passes were more than half of what they accomplished in the opening 45 minutes and were met with the same total of defensive actions by Fulham. Only this time, the home side had four of those tackles and interceptions occur in the attacking half and were hounding the visitors hard whenever they had the ball. The influences of Phillip Billing and Jonathan Hogg were rendered mute the rest of the match and once Luciano Vietto came off for Sessegnon, it was up to Fulham’s attacking players to carry them home.

Mitrovic was at his best once again with five shots at goal while Joe Bryan and Cyrus Christie were immense delivering width from their wingback positions all second half. Even Kamara had a decent attempt at a volley, even if it was calmly catched by Lossl. If anything, all of Fulham’s efforts led to the decisive penalty attempt and goal that sealed their three points. A 14-9 shot advantage and a 1.72-0.28 expected goal advantage was their just reward and further proof that their attacking nous can be even better going forward.

It may have been as ugly as you could get out of a football match, but what do you expect with a battle between the two worst football clubs in the Premier League. But for what it’s worth, Fulham can kick on...and hey, Arsenal are getting pummeled by Liverpool right now. Dreamers can keep dreaming.