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Darren Bent scored a late winner against Stoke City to end Fulham's seven-match winless run at Craven Cottage in the Barclays Premier League and take them out of the relegation zone.
Bent came on midway through the second half for his 250th Barclays Premier League appearance and pounced in the 83rd minute after Pajtim Kasami's cross was partially blocked. It was also Fulham's first Barclays Premier League clean sheet since February.
Last Saturday they lost 2-1 at home to Cardiff City and manager Martin Jol made four changes to that side. Philippe Senderos, Damien Duff, Giorgos Karagounis and Bryan Ruiz were recalled, replacing Kieran Richardson, Scott Parker, Alex Kacaniklic and Bent in the starting line-up. Stoke were beaten 1-0 at home by Norwich City last weekend and Mark Hughes made two changes with Stephen Ireland and Matthew Etherington replacing Kenwyne Jones and Charlie Adam.
Chances were rare in the opening stages, but Stoke had two penalty claims turned down. In the 18th minute, Ireland went down under a Senderos challenge while eight minutes later, Fernando Amorebieta's challenge on Jonathan Walters was punished with a free-kick and not a spot-kick. Sascha Riether saved Fulham with a header off the line to deny Huth just before the half-hour, while the hosts' first meaningful attack did not arrive until the 37th minute as Steve Sidwell nodded Kasami's cross over the crossbar.
The second half started similarly to the first as both sides struggled to create chances, but Stoke again looked the more likely to score. Ireland was presented with a good chance in the 58th minute, but after Arnautovic's excellent through-ball into the area, Amorebieta made a crucial last-ditch tackle to save the hosts.
With 22 minutes to play, Stoke almost took the lead as Huth headed a corner just wide, before Ireland missed the target with a controlled volley. Proceedings began to open up in the final 10 minutes, but Ruiz looked to have wasted the best chance as he shot straight at Asmir Begovic after coming in from the right. However, Bent grabbed the winner to secure Fulham's first Premier League win since the opening weekend of the season.
Fulham manager Martin Jol: "Winning the three points is what we needed. I can't say we played fantastically well but we could have scored the second goal at the end.
"They put a lot of pressure on us and we soaked it up but we want to have the initiative at home. We showed a great mentality, which is why we got the three points. In hindsight they had three or four chances which they missed but we worked ever so hard and we needed a win as much as they did. There are some positives but we have to play better than this. We have the likes of Darren Bent to score and he showed why he is here. Hopefully the victory will give us more confidence."
Stoke manager Mark Hughes: "As the away team we took the game to them and certainly in the second half we were very much in control and looking the team more likely to score. Unfortunately we had a misplaced pass and the one person you don't want it to fall to in that situation is Darren Bent.
"In terms of the game itself we were the more dominant side, which is encouraging for us in terms of performance, so we are desperately disappointed not to get something out of the game. Our minimum requirement was at least a draw if not a win so to get absolutely nothing is hard to take. We need to convert good performances into results as that is the name of the game."
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|02 Nov 2013||v Man Utd (H)|
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|21 Dec 2013||v Man City (H)|