Fulham 0-2 Crystal Palace: Eagles deal reality check to Cottagers in derby
Fulham 0-0 Crystal Palace

Two goals from Jeffrey Schlupp and Wilfried Zaha saw Crystal Palace win their opening game of the season, dealing a dose of reality to newly-promoted Fulham on their return to the Premier League.

After the Cottagers dominated the opening 25 minutes, Palace stung their hosts before the break, as stopper Wayne Hennessey made a string of saves - three from Aleksandar Mitrovic.

It gives Roy Hodgson a winning start on his return to west London, as the Eagles erase memories of last season's horrendous start to the campaign, with hopes of an improved performance this campaign now boosted.

Anticipation on the Thames

As the Cottagers made their return to the top flight, their was an heir of anticipation on the Thames for the first London derby of the season. The hosts began on the front keen to make an early impact and indeed made most of the early running.

Cyrus Christie in the third minute rifled a long-range effort from distance, which Palace goalkeeper Hennessey saved smartly down to his right, before Mitrovic was thwarted by the Welshman on a number of occasions in the opening period.

At the opposite end, Andros Townsend was the Eagles' most liveliest player to that point, shying from distance also straight into the gloves of debutant Fabri, before supplying Christian Benteke with a cross from the right, only for the Belgian's header to tipped onto the bar and away by the Spanish stopper.

Fulham were finding great joy down the left between Ryan Sessegnon and Joe Bryan, who on their first league outing together had build up an excellent understanding as full-back found winger on a regular basis.

Schlupp stuns hosts

In what was an open encounter, with just four minutes until the break, it was Palace who stunned their hosts and broke the deadlock.

As Fulham held back the Eagles' attack, Patrick van Aanholt spun away from his marker and found Schlupp in space in the area. The Dutchman checked wide of the defence and from a tight angle lashed an effort high into the Fulham net, as a forlorn Fabri failed to keep the ball out.

Having played creator, van Aanholt then almost had a goal of his own with a delightfully curled left-footed effort from the right of penalty area, but was flagged for offside, to the relief of the home fans.

Despite dominating the opening half, Fulham had been stung by the late Palace assault before the break, with the Cottagers in need of half-time respite.

Eagles go on the counter

Fulham had become nervous on resumption and shortly after the break almost presented the visitors with a second after a midfield mishap, when once more van Aanholt lashed from 20 yards out.

Slavisa Jokanvic looked on uncomfortably from the touchline, in need of some inspiration from his side.

It almost came in the way of a penalty, after Andre Schurrle tumbled in the area, but referee waved Fulham protest away. As the hosts went in search of a leveler, the Eagles began to spread their wings in the break and after a quiet game, Zaha sought his own piece of the action - again from range - but Fabri blocked well and away from goal.

Zaha seals points

Less than a minute later, Jokanovic's men came close via Mitrovic, but yet again Hennessey denied Mitrovic - this time from a header.

Debutant Bryan was forced off through injury, allowing Luciano to make his debut in the final minutes, before Zaha then sealed the points for Palace.

After smart play from full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the defender muscled his way through the Fulham midfield and slid the ball through the Ivorian.

Zaha headed for goal with only Maxime Le Marchard for company and as Fabri came out to intercept, Zaha slid the ball under the Cottagers' stopper and into an unguarded net.

The second sucked the life out of the hosts, but as it underline the sort of afternoon Fulham had had, Hennessey was one again on hand to stop a downward headed bound for the Palace goal, with the visitors bent on keeping a clean sheet.

Substitute Cheikh Kouyate almost added a third on his first appearance for Hodgson's men but was denied, as the full time whistle blew.

Palace had firmly erased fears of a repeat of losing the first eight games of last season, whilst for Fulham in their first top flight game in four years, it was a reality check for the Cottagers.