London, England – Dimitar Berbatov netted a first-half brace on Monday as 10-man Fulham held on for a 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Craven Cottage.
The hosts were on the front foot early on and were rewarded for their efforts in the eighth minute when a rash challenge by QPR defender Chris Samba resulted in a penalty kick, which Berbatov converted into the lower right corner for his first of the evening.
The Bulgarian struck again in the 22nd minute when Samba was unable to control the ball in his defensive half and Berbatov easily slid it past Rangers goalkeeper Julio Cesar with the outside of his right foot to make it 2-0 to the Cottagers.
Just moments later QPR had an excellent chance to get on the board when Loic Remy whipped a cross into the penalty area and the ball fell to the feet of Bobby Zamora, but he made a mess of the shot and blasted it way over the bar.
The home side added another goal five minutes from time with a bit of luck when a cross into the QPR area deflected off defender Clint Hill and wound up behind Cesar to give the hosts a seemingly insurmountable cushion.
But QPR served notice that it was still in the game with a goal right on the stroke of halftime after Adel Taarabt intercepted a pass in the attacking half and fired a low shot that Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer got fingertips on, but not enough to keep it out of the net, cutting the deficit to 3-1 at the break.
Rangers looked to be handed a lifeline just three minutes into the second half when Fulham defender Giorgos Karagounis brought down Taarabt in the box and a spot kick was awarded. Remy stepped up to take the kick and ripped it toward the lower right corner, but Schwarzer made a huge stop.
Despite receiving a big surge of momentum from Schwarzer's penalty save, a defensive breakdown in the 51st minute allowed QPR to make it a one-goal game when Remy collected a through pass and beat Cottagers defender Philippe Senderos to the ball before firing it past Schwarzer into the top portion of the net.
Holding the slim margin, things got tougher for Fulham with 12 minutes to play when Steve Sidwell was shown a straight red card for a rash tackle on QPR's Armand Traore, reducing the Cottagers to 10 men.
But the hosts bunkered down over the final 12 minutes, plus five minutes of stoppage time to claim all three points.
The result leaves Fulham in 10th place with 39 points from 30 matches, while QPR sits in 19th place on 23 points and will need to put together several wins over their final seven games to avoid relegation.