Both managers were reportedly under pressure going in to the game and, with both club’s respective owners in attendance, Martin Jol will no doubt be the happier of the two managers after goals from Pajtim Kasami, Steve Sidwell, Dimitar Berbatov and Philippe Senderos, the first two of which were sumptuous volleys, gave the visitors a 4-1 win and a valuable three points.
Palace had led early on after Adrian Mariappa headed home his first goal for the club but, despite the first two Fulham goals coming from superb individual efforts, Eagles’ boss Ian Holloway would have been disappointed to see the third and fourth conceded from set-pieces.
Palace’s opener came after just seven minutes after a corner was cleared well by the Fulham defence but the Eagles kept the ball alive as it was worked back to Jason Puncheon.
The Southampton loanee delivered a hanging cross which was met by Mariappa, who towered above Brede Hangeland to nod the Eagles ahead.
If Fulham were mediocre in the first 15 minutes, their equalising goal was anything but as Kasami collected a long ball forward from Sascha Riether on his chest and, despite the close attention of Mariappa, rifled a volley of the highest calibre past Julian Speroni from the edge of the penalty area.
“I’ve never scored a better goal, no! It was an unbelievable goal and I’m very pleased,” Kasami said afterwards.
Jol went further, comparing the goal to Marco van Basten’s famous volley for the Netherlands in the 1988 European Championship final.
He drooled: “Kasami’s is a better goal than people feel. You can’t compare that with Van Basten’s, no. This was better!
The goal, however, did not spark either side in to life with both teams struggling to create a chance of note until the closing moments of the first half when Fulham’s second goal was scored with aplomb by Sidwell.
A poor Bryan Ruiz free-kick slammed in to the wall and dropped to the 30-year-old midfielder who thrashed a dipping volley past Speroni to put the visitors in front.
In the second half, Darren Bent should have then done better with a chance gifted to Fulham by Speroni.
However, Speroni’s reprieve did not last for long as Berbatov was on hand to steer Ruiz’s resulting corner past the despairing 34-year-old.
Things went from bad to worse for Palace just five minutes later as Senderos was on hand to scissors-kick home another Ruiz corner from close range to give Fulham a truly unassailable lead.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Mariappa, Delaney, Moxey, O’Keefe, Jedinak, Campana (Thomas 46), Puncheon (Chamakh 56), Gayle (Phillips 69), Bolasie.
FULHAM: Stekelenburg, Riether, Senderos, Hangeland (Amorebieta 46), Richardson, Ruiz, Sidwell, Parker, Kasami, Berbatov (Rodallega 90), Bent (Duff 77).
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).