EPL ’18: Fulham Loses First Home Match To Crystal Palace In Debut Game
Fulham began their return to the Premier League with a 0-2 home defeat by Crystal Palace, who matched the new arrivals’ adventurous display with a smart and clinical away performance.
At the end of a half defined by Fulham’s failure to make more from slick passing and movement in attack, Patrick van Aanholt found Jeffrey Schlupp, who smashed home from inside the box amid slack marking from Calum Chambers.
Aleksandar Mitrovic had twice been denied by smart Wayne Hennessey stops, with Cyrus Christie also turned away from range, as seven new faces in the Fulham line-up showed few signs of failing to gel.
But Slavisa Jokanovic’s side, whose squad has been boosted by 12 new signings, were kept at arm’s length as Palace defended strongly and threatened on the break.
It was a pattern that grew in emphasis in the second half, despite Fulham having a big penalty claim turned down when Andre Schurrle went down under a Mamadou Sakho challenge in the box.
Just moments later, Wilfried Zaha should have doubled the lead but his low shot inside the box was diverted behind by Fabri’s legs.
But the Ivory Coast forward finally did seal the win with 11 minutes to play when coolly finishing under the Spanish goalkeeper after latching on to Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s through ball.
Fulham – who drew 2-2 with Palace in their previous top-flight fixture in May 2014 – may feel the result does not tell the whole story of the match; they had 66.3% possession and mustered 14 shots at goal.
However, it was Palace who emerged with greater reward from their share of the ball, from which they conjured nine shots on target, including two very well-taken goals.