Midfielder Clint Dempsey scored a brace as Fulham eased their relegation fears with a 2-0 victory over a spirited Stoke at Craven Cottage.
Feuding managers Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes put their differences aside and shook hands before kick-off – having not done so after their side’s previous two meetings due to comments made by Hughes about the visitors’ robust style of play.
Potters captain Ryan Shawcross shaved the outside of the post with a header on the five-minute mark after Matthew Etherington found him with a pinpoint free-kick amid early Stoke pressure.
It was then Fulham’s turn to attack, and winger Damian Duff almost broke the deadlock with a superb long-range effort.
The former Chelsea star let rip from 30 yards and his shot looked to be flying into the top corner before the slightest of touches from Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic tipped the stinging drive on to the bar.
Danny Murphy went close moments later with a shot from just outside the box after neat build-up play by the home side, while they had stand-in keeper David Stockdale to thank for saving Tuncay’s low volley with his legs during a vibrant opening 15 minutes.
Fulham captain Murphy committed a clumsy foul on Dean Whitehead to earn himself a booking and, from the resulting free-kick, Chris Baird’s clearance fell to striker Kenwyne Jones who rattled the post from a tight angle.
Fulham eventually made the breakthrough with 30 minutes gone after some slack Stoke defending.
The hard-working Duff slipped in Andy Johnson, who breezed past a static Robert Huth to get to the by-line, from where his low cross found Dempsey, left free by his marker Andy Wilkinson, and the American lashed home his seventh league goal of the season.
Fulham then gave themselves some breathing space 10 minutes into the second half when Dempsey bagged his second of the afternoon.
Murphy played the ball over the top of the Stoke backline to find the midfielder, who took a sublime touch to spin Shawcross and set himself through on goal.
Just before he was about to pull the trigger, Shawcross hauled him back, duly getting his marching orders in the process and allowing Dempsey to lash home from the penalty spot.
Johnson wasted a great chance to make it three as Begovic saved low down but, with Fulham already two goals up and Stoke a man down, the three points were safe.