Fulham moved clear of immediate Premier League danger with a big win over London rivals Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The visitors fell behind to Adrian Mariappa’s early opener. Sweet volleys from Pajtim Kasami and Sidwell brought about a first half turnaround, however.
Martin Jol’s side then helped themselves to two more goals from corners in a five-minute spell after the break with Dimitar Berbatov and Phillipe Senderos on target.
Eagles boss Ian Holloway made three changes, picking the XI that finished the 3-1 defeat at Anfield. Marouane Chamakh, Cameron Jerome and Jimmy Kebe dropped out with Yannick Bolasie, Jose Campana and Dwight Gayle replacing them.
Darren Bent was rewarded by scoring Fulham’s winner over Stoke City as Jol promoted him into the starting line-up. Number one Maarten Stekelenburg and midfielder Scott Parker returned after injury.
Kieran Richardson also came in as the West Londoners made four changes in all. Fernando Amorebieta, Damien Duff, Giorgos Karagounis and David Stockdale made way. Skipper Brede Hangeland shook off a back problem to keep his place.
Palace took an early lead as Fulham failed to fully clear a corner. Jason Puncheon whipped in the second ball and Mariappa got the jump on Brede Hangeland. Holloway’s hosts had a better balance, though like recent games they retained an open nature.
Stuart O’Keefe dragged wide when Mile Jedinak robbed Sidwell in possession. The Eagles ascendancy ceased, however, as the first of two wonder-strikes changed this game completely and brought the visitors level inside 20 minutes.
Kasami chested Sascha Riether’s long ball in the right channel and unleashed a sumptuous van Basten-esque volley that flew over a helpless Julian Speroni from an oblique angle. Fire alarms ironically rang out from the Selhurst Park executive suites almost in recognition of this sensational strike.
Fulham went to the well again on the stroke of half time completing the turnaround. The Palace wall did its job by blocking a free kick, but the rebound was volleyed into the top corner by Sidwell from 20 yards.
Holloway must have been scratching his scalp wondering how his team went in behind. Both managers made a half time change. Hangeland’s niggling back problem forced him off for the visitors with Amorebieta on to cover.
The Eagles introduced Jerome Thomas for Campana, but fell further behind five minutes into the second half when they were undone by a set piece. Speroni atoned for a poor clearance by turning Darren Bent’s strike behind, but the resulting corner put Fulham three up.
Berbatov flicked home an accurate header as Palace captain Mile Jedinak deserted his station on the far post. Bryan Ruiz then made it two assists in five minutes as Senderos smuggled in another corner on the slide between Speroni’s legs.
All the stuffing was knocked out of the Eagles, first by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and then fundamental set piece frailties. Chamakh and the evergreen Kevin Phillips came on but to no avail.
Swiss international Kasami almost netted another stunner, but Speroni turned this effort behind. Ottmar Hitzfeld certainly needs to think about including him on his World Cup roster.
Beaten Palace managed to sting the palms of Stekelenburg through Dean Moxey late on, but had long accepted their fate. This was simply a game they needed to win and losing it was a bitter blow. With each passing week Holloway knows his team are further from safety and speculation persists about his future. Fulham meanwhile climb to 14th.
- Palace: 1 Julian Speroni, 2 Joel Ward, 3 Adrian Mariappa, 27 Damien Delaney, 21 Dean Moxey, 12 Stuart O’Keefe, 15 Mile Jedinak (c), 6 Jose Campana (14 Jerome Thomas 46’), 13 Jason Puncheon (29 Marouane Chamakh 56’), 16 Dwight Gayle (9 Kevin Phillips 69’), 7 Yannick Bolasie 4-3-3
- Goals: Adrian Mariappa 7’
- Fulham: 1 Maarten Stekelenburg, 27 Sascha Riether, 4 Philippe Senderos, 5 Brede Hangeland (c) (35 Fernando Amorebieta 46’), 15 Kieran Richardson, 10 Bryan Ruiz, 28 Scott Parker, 7 Steve Sidwell, 8 Pajtim Kasami, 9 Dimitar Berbatov (20 Hugo Rodallega 90’), 39 Darren Bent (16 Damien Duff 77’) 4-4-2
- Goals: Pajtim Kasami 19’, Steve Sidwell 45’, Dimitar Berbatov 50’, Philippe Senderos 55’