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Steven Caulker scored twice as Cardiff City claimed a vital 3-1 win over fellow relegation candidates Fulham.
The centre-back, who was a member of Roy Hodgson's England squad in midweek, gave his side the lead with a close-range finish in stoppage time at the end of the first half. Fulham responded well and levelled before the hour through Lewis Holtby but Caulker headed a second and an own goal by Sascha Riether completed the visitors' misery.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff are only below fourth-bottom West Bromwich Albion on goal difference, while Fulham remain bottom with 16 defeats from their last 21 Barclays Premier League outings.
Felix Magath handed a first Barclays Premier League start to Kostas Mitroglou but the most eye-catching selection came alongside Fulham's record signing in attack, with 19-year-old academy graduate Cauley Woodrow given a surprise debut.
Fulham benefited from a 10th-minute opening as John Heitinga's quick free-kick caught the Cardiff defence napping, but Ashkan Dejagah fired into the side-netting from a tight angle with Mitroglou well placed centrally.
At the other end Fulham goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg punched to safety in the 16th minute after Fraizer Campbell had shimmied past a pair of challenges to unleash a venomous strike. The Dutch goalkeeper was called upon again to deny Kenwyne Jones’ header from a Jordon Mutch cross.
Jones and Mutch combined again in the 44th minute to offer the former Ajax goalkeeper some far more taxing work, a stunning reflex save thwarting the Trinidad forward from close quarters. Fulham failed to clear effectively from the corner that followed and when Craig Noone's low cross was deflected across the six-yard box Caulker was left with a tap-in.
Magath's men made a livelier start to the second period, Holtby testing David Marshall in the Cardiff goal from Woodrow's knockdown, but Jones could have doubled the hosts' lead in the 50th minute when he headed wide at the back post on the end of a searching Noone cross.
Alex Kacaniklic, a half-time replacement for John Arne Riise, was the next man to carry the Fulham threat as he shot off target following a solo run, before Mitroglou was unable to turn Kieran Richardson’s centre goalwards.
But the pressure told in the 59th minute when an inswinging corner from substitute Giorgos Karagounis was flicked on by Heitinga at the near post for Holtby to convert.
The set-piece defending from both teams showed scant sign of improving and Stekelenburg was forced into another fine stop when Kim Bo-Kyung fired through a crowded penalty area. But Stekelenburg was beaten from the ensuing corner when Caulker rose unmarked to head in his second.
Cardiff sealed the points in scrappy fashion as another excellent Noone cross was bundled goalwards by Campbell. Stekelenburg's point-blank stop was impressive but the loose ball cannoned into Riether and trickled over the line.
In the 77th minute, Mitroglou was denied by an excellent Marshall save, while Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell had a late header ruled out for offside.
Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "We couldn't even consider losing this one. Both teams knew they would be adrift if they lost. The response after they scored was the biggest thing for me. There is fight in this team. They are fighting and desperate to stay up. It is an experience playing in the Premier League.
"We've looked at the games. Nine to go and if we get another four wins I think that'll be it. We've had a bad run but are still in with a shout. One more win in the next couple of games will be important. I believe in these lads. When you do work with them every day you do believe."
Fulham manager Felix Magath: "We are disappointed that we lose such an important game so the relegation fight goes on. We were not too good today but for us it is a problem when we score too late. We played OK but one goal and our confidence goes.
"I thought we might do better when we came back but that takes our confidence away when we lose the second goal. Nine games [left this season] is a lot of points, but for sure we have to win our home games like Cardiff did today. It is still possible."
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