Pavel Pogrebynak scored his first hat-trick in English football as Fulham beat struggling Wolves 5-0 at Craven Cottage. The Russian forward now has five goals in three games since his arrival from Stuttgart in January.
A brace from Clint Dempsey completed the scoring for Fulham as Wolves experienced a confidence battering defeat in Terry Connor’s second game in charge.
The win sees Fulham jump to eighth in the Premier League after their third consecutive win, the first time they have achieved that feat since 2008.
Fulham began the match much the brighter of the two sides, with Wolves struggling to cope with the movement of Clint Dempsey and the forward runs from John Arne Riise. It was Riise who had Fulham’s first worthy effort on goal, as his powerful shot was tipped inches wide by Wayne Hennessey, with the strike looking destined for the bottom left corner.
The creativity of midfielder Moussa Dembele caused major problems for Wolves with his eye for a pass and his intelligent touches on the ball.
Despite Fulham’s dominance they failed to create many goal scoring opportunities and it was Wolves who could and probably should have taken the lead in the 20th minute. Jamie O’Hara’s inswinging free-kick was headed inches wide of the top left hand corner by Richard Stearman.
Wolves failed to build on that chance and Fulham nearly got themselves ahead when Andy Johnson’s near post flick was superbly blocked by Hennessey after a low cross from Riise.
Fulham continued to dominate and finally got their reward ten minutes before half-time through Pogrebnyak. The Russian striker found himself unmarked in the box and powered in a header from Damien Duff’s corner. There were questions raised over whether the corner should have been given, with replays suggesting there was not a deflection in the lead up to the corner being given.
Fulham continued to look dangerous in attack, and a minute before half-time Pogrebnyak got his and Fulham’s second of the afternoon. A poor pass back from Kevin Foley was seized on by Dempsey, despite a good challenge from Stearman Pogrebnyak passed the ball out to Johnson who crossed the ball back into the box for Pogrebynak to fire into the top right corner, sending Fulham into half-time 2-0 ahead.
Fulham were immediately on the front foot again in the second half, with Johnson shooting agonizingly across the six yard box after a mix up between Hennessey and Christophe Berra. Wolves continued to struggle against the speed of the clever Fulham attack and the game was all but over just before the hour mark.
American midfielder Dempsey controlled well after a long pass forward from Danny Murphy, took the ball around the onrushing Hennessey before firing home past two defenders on the line.
Wolves’ heads began to drop and it was not long before Martin Jol’s side raced into a 4-0 lead. After cutting inside from the left Johnson’s shot was parried by Hennessey, for Pogrebnyak to tap in with an outstretched left toe to score a perfect first hat-trick in English football.
Fulham refused to drop a gear and looked dangerous every time they came forward, with Johnson’s curling shot clipping the crossbar nearly making it five.
In Terry Connor Wolves have a manager who will never let his players give up and that was evident as the second half wore on, with the away side creating several chances. Steven Fletcher blazed over when through on goal and then had a shot blocked bravely by Riise after Jarvis had run the Fulham defence ragged.
Wolves failed to grab a consolation goal and it was the home side that got the final goal of the game. After a lengthy passing move, new signing Mahamadou Diarra found Dempsey free in the box and the in-form midfielder hit a controlled left footed shot into the top left corner to make it 5-0 to the home side.
Wolves’ performance was summed up in the 92nd minute when O’Hara’s tame strike was their first shot on target of the game.
Fulham were at their scintillating best but Wolves looked toothless in attack and unsure at the back. On the evidence of this performance Connor and his team have a massive job on their hands if they want to be visiting Craven Cottage again next season.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Hughes, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Duff (Davies 80), Murphy (Diarra 69), Dembele, Dempsey; Johnson, Pogrebnyak (Frei 85)
Subs not used: Stockdale, Halliche, Etuhu, Sa
Wolves: Hennessey; Zubar, Berra, Stearman, Ward; Kightly (Fletcher 61), Foley (Hunt 84), Henry (Milijas 19), O’Hara, Jarvis; Doyle
Subs not used: De Vries, Johnson, Bassong, Jonsson