Michy Batshuayi makes instant impact as Palace pour misery on Fulham

first_img Match stats Why transfer window was subdued – despite Mike Ashley splurge 9 Mitrovic Goal attempts Time is running out for Fulham. With the weeks flying by and defeats piling up, their hopes of conjuring a miraculous escape are fading and for all that Claudio Ranieri tried to keep the mood light after witnessing another lamentable effort on the road from his naive side, the Italian must have seen signs of a group who have already started to accept their fate.More than anything, it was the lack of fight that was most troubling once a dismal error from Cyrus Christie had sent Crystal Palace on their way to a crucial win in the battle to stay in the Premier League. Buoyed by a lively cameo from Michy Batshuayi, Palace fully merited a victory that eased relegation pressure and left Ranieri’s side looking forlorn in 19th place, seven points behind fourth-bottom Burnley and with the walls closing in as 13 games remain.Any positivity Fulham generated after that thrilling comeback against Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday is gone. They lacked the nous to deal with the tension and a first away win of the season was never going to happen, even though Ranieri rued the moment when Aleksandar Mitrovic wasted a glorious opportunity to give Fulham an early lead. “If we score a goal, I think it could change the match,” Fulham’s manager said. “When you take a chance, maybe everybody is more combined and strong.”It was a surprise to see a striker of Mitrovic’s aerial prowess fluff his lines when Joe Bryan’s cross found him unmarked in the six-yard box. Normally so deadly in the air, Fulham’s top scorer wore the look of a man who knew he could not rely on his teammates in defence to lessen the effect of his profligacy. The striker has seen enough to know that mistakes are never far away and it was not long before the division’s worst backline presented their hosts with a gift. Read more Perhaps the arrival of another Belgian forward on deadline day has stirred Benteke after a difficult campaign. Palace have more competition in attack after signing Batshuayi and Hodgson was grateful to have the Chelsea loanee in reserve once Benteke had tired, especially as Wilfried Zaha was suspended.On came Batshuayi, turning on the edge of the area and firing a shot that Rico palmed to Jeffrey Schlupp to gobble up from the rebound. “It was an incredible impact,” Hodgson said. “He has scored in almost every debut he’s had and he almost kept that record going.”Ranieri, whose side failed to muster a single shot on target, tried to finish on a defiant note. “We have to continue to fight,” he said. “We lost a battle but not the war. I am always positive. I want the maximum in every training session. I want the maximum in every match.” Share on LinkedIn Ranieri condemned “a stupid foul” and even Roy Hodgson, Palace’s manager, struggled to make sense of Christie’s thinking. “We got a piece of good fortune,” Hodgson said. “I didn’t expect Christie to handle it and give us that penalty. Only he would be able to tell us how it came about.”It was one-way traffic after Milivojevic had struck a powerful penalty past Rico, who was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers. Belief soared through Palace after a nervy start and Benteke, who looked determined to make up for lost time after being handed his first start since 1 September, was unfortunate to see an overhead kick crash against the bar. Possession Substitutes Fulham Read more C Palace The Observer 13 Ream 58 42 FUL CRY 34 Kelly The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. 3 Sessegnon 5 Tomkins Fouls 8 10 23 Bryan (s 82′) (s 62′) Substitutes 20 Le Marchand 31 Guaita Share on Messenger 10 Townsend Twitter 18 McArthur 15 Schlupp 14 Ayew Share on Facebook Luka Milivojevic celebrates scoring a penalty. Photograph: Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images Hazard and Higuaín maul Huddersfield as Chelsea end their wobble in style 7 Meyer Lineups 3 van Aanholt (s 72′) Corners Facebook Premier League Crystal Palace 11 C Palace Off target 8 Fulham 5 C Palace On target 0 Fulham (s 90′) 25 Sergio Rico 4 Odoi 6 Dann 44 Riedewald 4 Milivojevic 5 Chambers 26 Sako There was no hint of danger when James McArthur hit a diagonal pass into Fulham’s area in the 25th minute. Yet the presence of Christian Benteke unsettled Christie, who threw out an arm in a doomed attempt to clear.Michael Oliver, the referee, was almost apologetic as he penalised the wing-back, giving Luka Milivojevic the chance to beat Sergio Rico from the spot. 12 Babel 11 1 31 Ramirez 24 Seri 19 Vietto 44 Cisse 29 Wan Bissaka (s 88′) 12 Sakho 10 Cairney 11 Ayite Reuse this content (s 46′) match reports 22 Christie 13 Hennessey Share on WhatsApp Pinterest Fulham Share on Twitter 7 Kebano 21 Fosu-Mensah Share via Email 17 Benteke Share on Pinterest Topics 23 Batshuayi FUL58CRY42%last_img

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