Fulham forward Dimitar Berbatov produced a moment of magic to end his side’s poor run with a 1-0 win over Stoke at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Berbatov marked his 200th Premier League appearance with his 85th goal in the English top-flight and it was one of the former Manchester United star’s best as he netted a superb volley just before half-time.
Martin Jol’s team still needed a second half penalty save from Mark Schwarzer, who kept out Jon Walters’ effort, to clinch just their fourth win in 19 Premier League games.
Berbatov and Schwarzer’s heroics lifted Fulham to 11th, nine points clear of the relegation zone, and continued the away-day misery for Stoke, who have won just one in their last 23 leagues games on their travels.
Fulham’s first sight of goal fell to Berbatov after Sascha Riether’s cross picked out the Bulgarian forward for a close-range volley that looped just over.
Bryan Ruiz had the ball in the net moments later but Fulham’s celebrations were cut short as referee Lee Probert correctly ruled that the Costa Rican forward had used his hand to score.
Steven Nzonzi needed treatment after a collision with Berbatov left the Stoke midfielder with blood dripping from the bridge of his nose.
Nzonzi still seemed miffed following that incident and he was fortunate to escape with a booking after cuffing Ruiz around the head in an off-the-ball incident.
A ferocious free-kick from Fulham’s Greek midfielder Giorgos Karagounis brought the best save of the half from Asmir Begovic.
Stoke sent on American midfielder Brek Shea for his debut when Matthew Etherington hobbled off with a back injury.
Jol’s team pushed on and finally broke the deadlock in first half stoppage-time when a cross was only half cleared to Berbatov, who showed superb technique to lash a brilliant volley into the top corner of Begovic’s goal.
Fulham defender Philippe Senderos almost gifted Stoke an equaliser immediately after the interval when his attempt to shepherd the ball back to Schwarzer allowed Peter Crouch to nip ahead of him and flick a shot that the Australian saved well.
Schwarzer came to Fulham’s rescue again in the 54th minute after Dejagah conceded a penalty when he blocked Shea’s cross with his raised arms.
Walters stepped up to take the spot-kick, but the Stoke striker has a poor record with penalties this season and his luck was out again as Schwarzer dived to his right to save.