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Charlton beat Fulham 2-1
Updated: 2004-12-21 09:46

Charlton gave their fans an early Christmas present as they saw off the challenge of London rivals Fulham to record a 2-1 win at The Valley.

Charlton Athletics' Tal El Karkouri celebrates his goal with teammate Radostin Kishishev, the second of the match during their Premiership match against Fulham at Charlton Athletics grounds.[AFP]
Goals from young winger Jerome Thomas - who penned an improved contract with the Addicks earlier this week - and Talal El Karkouri helped give Alan Curbishley's side their third win in a row as they prepare for a hectic festive schedule.

Fulham hit a late goal to earn a creditable draw against Manchester United last week, and although substitute Tomasz Radzinski stabbed the ball in with eight minutes left tonight, a similar result here would have been barely deserved on what was, overall, a disappointing performance.

It was Charlton, playing with Shaun Bartlett as a lone striker and five in midfield, who had started brightly.

In the fifth minute, Danny Murphy got half a yard in the right side of the penalty area, and tried to loft the ball into the centre, then launching a hopeful appeal for hand-ball against full-back Carlos Bocanegra.

It was some time, however, before the first clear opening of the match.

Fulham captain Andy Cole looked to have broken the offside trap on 15 minutes, beating the `keeper well, only for his joy to be curtailed by a raised flag.

Then at the other end, big Dutch `keeper Edwin van der Sar had to be alert to get down low to his right and stop El Karkouri's powerful header.

In the 23rd minute, the visitors were awarded a free-kick on the left edge of the Charlton area after the Moroccan had wrestled Cole to the ground.

The set-piece was well worked, but Mark Pembridge eventually drove the ball straight into the wall.

Charlton then went on the offensive, and took the lead in the 27th minute.

The ball was punted up field towards the Fulham penalty box, where Bartlett flicked it on to Murphy.

The former Liverpool midfielder then quickly fed possession back out to the South African on the right.

His teasing centre eluded both Papa Bouba Diop and Bocanegra, before dropping to Thomas at the far post.

And the youngster needed no second invitation, taking a touch before stabbing the ball past van der Sar for his second goal of the campaign.

Sylvain Legwinski then sent a well-struck drive goalwards from 20 yards, but the shot was too central to trouble Dean Kiely.

Jonathan Fortune almost bundled in a second for Charlton during the 43rd minute, but just could not connect with Hermann Hreidarsson's knockdown from a corner.

Fulham were first to show following the restart, when Liam Rosenior sent in a deep cross from the right flank, which had Kiely scrambling out to his six-yard line to touch behind as Bocanegra looked to sneak in at the far post.

Charlton almost nicked a second in the 50th minute.

Hreidarsson again got up first from a corner, heading down towards the far post.

El Karkouri anticipated well and nipped in around the back of the defence to hook the ball goalwards, but van der Sar stood tall and made the block on the line.

Fulham at least were looking to pass the ball shorter now after using the long-ball game far too much in the first half, but their distribution left plenty to be desired as the hour mark approached.

Murphy was, however, within inches of putting his side 2-0 up in the 62nd minute.

Collecting the ball on the left of the box, the one-time England man twice turned Ian Pearce inside out before curling a right-foot shot against the far post, with van der Sar beaten. Zesh Rehman hacked the rebound clear.

Fulham boss Chris Coleman then made a change, sending on Radzinski for the ineffective Steed Malbranque. Moments later, though, and his side were 2-0 down.

Rosenior was booked after tugging back Thomas on the left edge of the Fulham penalty area.

Murphy swung over the resulting free-kick, with El Karkouri getting up ahead of Brian McBride to head the ball past van der Sar.

Cole somehow fired wide after a mix-up in the Charlton defence presented the former England striker with the ball only eight yards from goal.

Then, with nine minutes to go, Radzinski gave the visitors hope when he stabbed home from close range after Kiely parried McBride's header from a corner.

However, it was too little too late and Charlton closed out the match to climb to seventh in the table, while Fulham will need some points over the festive period if they are to stay clear of the relegation zone.

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