Fulham came back from a goal down to secure a fine victory over Wolves at Cottage in an uncompromising encounter. Jelle Van Damme handed the visitors the lead before two second-half goals from Mousa Dembele guaranteed the three points. However the win was marred by an injury to Bobby Zamora.
Mark Schwarzer returned to the starting line-up as the Whites secured their first win of the Barclays Premier League season. In Damien Duff’s absence, Mousa Dembele started on the left of midfield with Clint Dempsey leading the attack alongside Bobby Zamora.
Fulham started brightly and looked lively in attack with Dembele, Dempsey, Davies and Zamora all looking to get on the ball. The Whites had the first of many penalty appeals turned down on seven minutes when a driving run from Dickson Etuhu pulled Wolves’ defence out of shape, allowing Simon Davies to get through only for the Fulham midfielder to be clipped by a defender and brought to ground.
The visitors took the lead somewhat against the run of play on nine minutes when a cross from Kevin Doyle foundJelle Van Damme free at the back post - the Wolves player calmly side-footed past Schwarzer to give his side the lead.
There were certainly signs that Wolves’ opening goal had not affected the run of play. Fulham continued to press forward and some fine link up play between Zamora and Dembele looked to have the better of the Wolves defence..
But there were worrying moments on 27 minutes when Bobby Zamora was tackled by Karl Henry. The Fulham player remained down and required oxygen before being stretchered from the pitch, having sustained what looked like a serious injury - Zoltan Gera came on in his place. The change saw Dembele move up front with Gera playing out wide.
As the half-time break approached, Wolves had successfully been able to turn the game into a scrappy affair, with little space being given. Sylvain Ebanks-Blake incurred the wrath of the Cottage faithful just before the whistle when he led into a challenge with Brede Hangeland with his right hand, catching the Fulham defender in the face.
The second-half started with a change for Fulham, Chris Baird replaced John Pantsil at right-back after the Ghanaian picked up a yellow card late in the first-half.
Despite the fiery nature of the first-half, Fulham resumed the game in a composed and measured fashion. The rewards were reaped immediately as the Whites passed their way through their opponents and netted the equaliser on 49 minutes. Mousa Dembele drilled a low left-footed shot past Hahnemann after a cross from the left fell kindly for him.
An inventive overhead kick from Zoltan Gera just after the equaliser almost handed Fulham the lead, unfortunately the ball sailed just over.
There was another penalty appeal for the Whites on 56 minutes when Simon Davies was played clean through. His first touch allowed Marcus Hahnemann to close the space and thankfully wrestle the ball out of Davies’ possession.
Mark Schwarzer produced a good save just before the hour mark to deny a header from Kevin Doyle. But the action soon switched to the other end where a smart pass from Dembele was just clipped past the far post by Davies. Fulham were on the hunt for the winner.
As the half progressed Fulham were looking ever more in control, certainly in terms of possession, the Whites were keeping Mick McCarthy’s side penned back for longer periods than in the first-half. Wolves’ attacks, whilst more fleeting, still carried enough threat to keep the Fulham defence on their toes.
Christophe Berra entered the book on 76 minutes, becoming the fourth Wolves player to be cautioned. He was immediately followed into the referee's records by team-mate Karl Henry.
Clint Dempsey was replaced by Eddie Johnson on 82 minutes as Mark Hughes looked to push on for a winning goal.
Berra was dismissed following his second yellow card of the afternoon after he blocked the run of Eddie Johnson. From the resulting free kick Mousa Dembele drilled a powerful effort past Hahnemann, sending the Craven Cottage crowd wild.