Fulham produced a thrilling attacking display at Craven Cottage as they recorded a convincing win over Bolton Wanderers. A brace from Clint Dempsey got the Whites on their way before Brede Hangeland rounded off the scoring with a trademark header.
There were nervy moments for the Whites within the first minute of play when Fabrice Muamba spurned a good opportunity to give his side the lead, side footing from close range to a grateful Mark Schwarzer.
The action moved straight to the other end where Eidur Gudjohnsen fed the ball to Clint Dempsey, whose shot from 25 yards produced a good save from Jussi Jaaskelainen. The entertaining start continued and this time Dempsey returned the favour for Gudjohnsen only for the Icelander to put the ball over the bar from a good position.
Fulham took the lead in the 15th minute with a wonderfully executed volley from Clint Dempsey. Bolton failed to clear a corner which allowed Chris Baird to try his luck from a narrow angle. Fortunately, Baird’s shot deflected into the path of Dempsey who made certain with a crisp volley.
The Whites continued to press and went close with good opportunities for Dempsey and Salcido, whilst Jaaskelainen produced a wonderful fingertip save to deny Mousa Dembele. And the Finnish goalkeeper had to be off his line quickly to close down Eidur Gudjohnsen after he was put through on goal and clipped a nonchalant finish past the onrushing stopper and against the foot of the post.
As the half-time interval approached Fulham started to threaten once more and more skilful play from Davies and Dempsey helped craft a shooting opportunity for Dembele, which was deflected wide for a corner.
The Whites got the second-half action underway in the knowledge that they would need to build upon their lead in order to keep a dangerous Bolton side at bay. And Clint Dempsey wasted little time in doubling Fulham’s lead with a tap-in from close range in the 48th minute.
Bolton failed to adequately deal with a short corner which allowed the ball to be playing into the area where a deft flick from Gudjohnsen set Dempsey up with a simple finish.
Mousa Dembele was clearly eager to get his name on the score sheet and was demonstrating his full repertoire of tricks – as he repeatedly left the Bolton defence guessing. In fact, through the Whites’ sheer speed of passing and movement Bolton often struggled to settle themselves and maintain their shape.
On 56 minutes a positive piece of attacking play from Simon Davies, who beat two defenders with a cut in from the right wing, culminated in a penalty appeal against Zat Knight, who appeared to handle Davies’ shot in the area.
Brede Hangeland made it three for Fulham on 65 minutes with a towering header from Danny Murphy’s free-kick.
Mousa Dembele’s involvement in the action ended on 68 minutes when he was replaced by Bobby Zamora. The Belgian international went off to a rapturous round of applause after an impressive performance.
Simon Davies looked in inspired form as he set up Bobby Zamora for a goal which was ultimately chalked off for handball. Nonetheless, the build-up play from Davies was thrilling to watch.
Danny Murphy made way for Dickson Etuhu shortly after as the Whites looked to maintain their clean sheet. Fulham’s final change of the game saw Eidur Gudjohnsen replaced by Andrew Johnson.
Fulham continued to dominate possession right up to the final whistle to ensure another great night at Craven Cottage.