Fulham held on for a 3-2 Premier League win over Queens Park Rangers that pushed its west London rival closer to relegation from English soccer’s elite division.
Fulham went 3-0 up inside 41 minutes at Craven Cottage last night on Dimitar Berbatov’s double and Clint Hill’s own goal. QPR hit back through Adel Taarabt and Loic Remy, who also missed a penalty kick, and Fulham clung to its lead after going a man down in the 80th minute when Steve Sidwell was red carded.
The win leaves Fulham in 10th place with 39 points, nine clear of the of the three relegation positions at the bottom of the 20-team standings. Second-last QPR is seven points from safety with seven matches remaining and next hosts 17th-place Wigan on April 7.
“It was a disastrous first half and it cost us,” QPR manager Harry Redknapp said in a televised interview. “We are not giving up. We have to beat Wigan on Sunday. That is where we are at now.”
QPR defender Christopher Samba gave away an eighth-minute penalty kick and Berbatov converted to score in four straight league games for the first time in his career. The Bulgarian striker got the second goal 14 minutes later after Samba lost control when trying to dribble the ball out of defense.
Fulham got its third goal four minutes before half time when John Arne Riise’s cross deflected off Hill into the net. Taarabt made it 3-1 just before the break with a shot from outside the penalty area.
Remy had a chance to make it 3-2 early in the second half when Taarabt was tripped in the penalty area, though Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer made a one-handed save. Remy made amends two minutes later when he slammed in a shot off the underside of the crossbar.
Schwarzer saved shots from Andros Townsend and Bobby Zamora to help Fulham, which lost Sidwell to a straight red card following his lunge on Armand Traore, secure all three points.
“It was a bit disappointing to be 3-0 up and then make it difficult,” said Fulham manager Martin Jol. “Hopefully 39 points is enough, but it is a tough competition.”
Redknapp said QPR needs at least 14 points from its remaining seven games to give itself a chance of avoiding the drop to the second-tier Championship.
“We have to try to do that,” Redknapp added. “We have to win four and draw two, but it is getting harder.”
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