Fulham 2-1 Everton Capital One Cup: Darren Bent Hits Winner

Fulham's Darren Bent celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game with teammates including Giorgos Karagounis (right)
Fulham's Darren Bent celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game with teammates including Giorgos Karagounis (right)

It's taken the best part of six months but finally Fulham have won at Craven Cottage. Margaret Thatcher has passed away and a British male has won the Wimbledon title in the time that has elapsed, as Martin Jol's side exorcised their own demons by the Thames.

"A really good cup game," Everton manager Roberto Martínez magnanimously said of an even contest. Winless since the opening day of the Premier League, Fulham's defeat of Everton also marked their progression to the last 16 of the League Cup for the first time since 2004.

"A big relief," Jol confessed. "We fought like lions. In the second-half you saw we were more creative but even in the first half I didn't think we were that bad."

Toffees boss Martínez made eight changes to the Premier League's only unbeaten side while Martin Jol dropped five of the also-rans from the loss at Chelsea. Dimitar Berbatov, Adel Taarabt and Gerard Deulofeu's inclusions hinted at a nomadic encounter.

It was the pragmatic Steven Naismith who scored the opener, though. Less than a minute after he shot meekly at Robert Stockdale from Romelu Lukaku's graceful turn and pass, Deulofeu put him through again and the Scot finished neatly, becoming Everton's joint-top scorer this season.

Jol opined "the draw wasn't so kind" in his programme notes and neither were the home crowd, frustrated by their mavericks' lethargy. In a competition associated with blooding youngsters, the average age of Fulham's 11 was 29.

One of the veterans, Dimitar Berbatov, glanced a header wide of Joel's right-hand post while at the opposite end Sylvain Distin hit the woodwork from Deulofeu's corner.

Deulofeu was the most ebullient attacker on the pitch, slaloming past Fulham defenders like Hermann Maier, eliciting a cynical foul from Scott Parker and drawing an excellent save from Stockdale. Martínez said of Ross Barkley: "The more you watch him the more you fall in love," and the "electric" Deulofeu could vie with with his teammate for the Spaniard's affection.

That first 45 dominance would ultimately haunt Everton. "Looking at the game I did feel we created enough chances to win comfortably," he lamented.

It took Fulham until the 45th minute to test Joel when Berbatov shot straight at the 'keeper, and their humdrum effort was greeted with boos at half-time.

However there was greater alacrity from the Cottagers immediately after the pause. Informed of Parker's penchant for stirring interval speeches at full-time, Jol was unaware of his midfielder's vocalness. "It's nice to know that, we'll expect more from him," he chuckled. Joel agilely repelled a stinging shot from Alexander Kačaniklić and moments later the Swede horribly mis-hit a presentable volley.

Everton's travelling support was as impressive as it was quiet. Craven Cottage is perhaps the most urbane ground in the top flight and the visiting fans matched the locals' diplomacy on a night the police could have kept the roads clear.

Then Berbatov turned up the volume. Seamus Coleman cut out Pajtim Kasami's attempted pass for Taarabt but inadvertently assisted the Bulgarian, who slotted in his first goal this term to reward Fulham for their threatening re-start.

"I thought we lost control of the ball and it was too easy for them to counter-attack," Martínez reflected. Jol brought Darren Bent on for the terrible Taarabt to build on momentum and two minutes and 47 seconds later he pounced.

Giorgos Karagounis' free-kick deceived the entire Everton side as he instead fed the England striker, waiting in the channel, who drilled a left-footed shot past Joel into the opposite corner. Jol was cagey when asked about a potential Berbatov-Bent axis from the off, preaching the importance of "integrating" players.

Deulofeu went close with a curling shot, Stockdale got lucky when he fumbled Lukaku's effort and Coleman skewed wide with the goal at his mercy, as Fulham held on.

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