Everton saw the form book turned upside down as they fell to a poor defeat away to Fulham in the Premier League. Relegated Fulham ended a nine-match losing streak with a surprise 2-0 Premier League win over Everton at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Playing for the first time since their return to the Championship was confirmed by defeat to Watford last week, Scott Parker earned his first win as caretaker manager.
After controlling the opening period, captain Tom Cairney’s first goal of season just 31 seconds into the second half put Fulham on their way before Ryan Babel sealed victory.
Everton had won three straight games without conceding coming into the game but produced a lacklustre performance.
The lively Aleksandar Mitrovic had two early shots saved by Jordan Pickford and then tested the Everton goalkeeper with a powerful header.
Fulham continued to dominate and Calum Chambers failed to make good contact with an excellent headed chance before Mitrovic curled an effort against the crossbar as half-time approached.
At the other end, Bernard saw an attempt kept out by Sergio Rico with what proved to be the visitors’ only shot on target.
Marco Silva ordered his players out to warm-up early during the interval, but that move did not have the desired effect as Fulham got the goal their play deserved almost immediately after half-time, Cairney coolly finding the bottom corner to convert Babel’s cut-back from the left.
Both sides had goals disallowed with a Gylfi Sigurdsson tap-in ruled out for Everton after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was ruled to have fouled Rico, before Ryan Sessegnon’s strike for the hosts was wiped out for a Mitrovic infringement against Kurt Zouma.
Calvert-Lewin was denied by the post after latching onto Sigurdsson’s throughball, a missed chance that proved crucial when Fulham sealed the points 21 minutes from time as Babel raced clear to dink a finish over Pickford, Mitrovic with the assist.
What does it mean? Relief, and frustration, for Fulham
While Fulham will be relieved to end a horrific run of form, many fans will be wondering where this free-flowing play has been for much of the season. With the pressure off after relegation, they looked formidable at times with Mitrovic, Babel and Cairney all shining going forward against an in-form side from the top half of the table.
Everton miss the chance to move up to seventh after their strong run came to an alarming halt.
Babel assisted the first goal and scored an impressively taken second himself as part of a performance that saw him create three chances for his team-mates.
Calvert-Lewin struck the post with an excellent chance when the score was 1-0 and failed to hit the target with any of his three attempts at goal in a poor outing for him and the team as a whole.
Key Opta Facts
– Fulham recorded their first Premier League win in 10 games, having lost each of the previous nine fixtures.
– All five of Fulham’s Premier League victories this season have come at Craven Cottage, with this their first since beating Brighton and Hove Albion in January.
– Everton have won just one of their last 12 Premier League away games in London (D3 L8).
– Fulham’s Cairney scored his first Premier League goal since netting versus Everton in March 2010 for Hull City – 3,324 days ago.
Fulham will be on a high when they play away to Bournemouth next Saturday, a day before Everton host Manchester United.