Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Fulham 2 Norwich 1

Not for the first time, Fulham had their talismanic Texan Clint Dempsey to thank for a slender victory, with a performance which sums up exactly why Martin Jol so desperately needs him to extend his current stay at Craven Cottage.

The marauding midfielder, who ended up playing in attack due to a 35th-minute injury to Pavel Pogrebnyak, scored once and set up another to settle this mid-table clash against also-safe Norwich in west London.

It was Dempsey’s 13th goal of the campaign, making this his most prolific season in the league and him the first player since Louis Saha to hit that many in a single Premier League campaign for the club.

It is no surprise speculation linking him with a move to one of Europe’s elite has intensified, given his progression since his £2 million move from New England Revolution in 2007 – surely one of the most shrewd acquisitions in Fulham’s history.

He will be able to leave for nothing in 16 months, when his current deal expires, and extension talks which started last month are ongoing.

Jol, however, preferred to praise Fulham’s youngsters – the club’s future.

When asked about Dempsey’s contract situation, Jol said: “Today you saw [debutant] Alex Kacaniklic as well, so there are more options on the left. Kerim Frei did well this year, he is only 18 years of age and played against Manchester United. I thought it was time to give Alex his debut and I think he worked hard and did well.”

Of Dempsey, he added: “Clint is very good at arriving late, near the end of things. In the second half of course we had to use him in a different way, but if you look at my players he’s probably the one who could do a job there.”

It took less than two minutes for the 29-year-old to make his mark. When John Ruddy failed to hold Bryan Ruiz’s curling effort, Dempsey scored with a touch of his thigh and more than a touch of good fortune. Then, in the 13th minute, he supplied a show-stopping pass for Duff to race onto and double the advantage.

But it was not all plain sailing for the hosts, who had to defend doggedly to preserve their lead after Aaron Wilbraham pulled one back for Norwich 13 minutes from time.

Visiting manager Paul Lambert said: “You can’t give teams a two-goal head start. It is a mountain to climb from there, but the response was absolutely terrific.

“The great thing for me is that we never capitulated, which can happen when you lose two goals as early as that and are a young team.”

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