What the papers say

Chelsea will have to pay more than £100million if they want to sign 19-year-old Irish striker Evan Ferguson as Brighton resist letting go of the teenager, the Evening Standard says. Ferguson has signed a deal with Brighton until 2029 after a promising start to his career, including scoring six goals for the club this season.

Everton have slapped a £60million fee on 22-year-old midfielder Amadou Onana, and i sport reports that Arsenal, who are interested in the Belgian, will have to sell a player to afford him.

Fulham, Everton and clubs overseas are said to be interested in Brentford’s 26-year-old midfielder Frank Onyeka, the Guardian reports.

The Times says West Ham are interested in Mexican striker Santiago Gimenez, who Feyenoord value at £30million. The 22-year-old has scored 18 goals in 16 Eredivisie games this season.

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Jack Clarke: Football London reports West Ham and Crystal Palace are interested in Sunderland’s 23-year-old forward who is valued at around £20million.

Victor Osimhen: Senior figures at Real Madrid believe the club should sign the 25-year-old Napoli striker instead of Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, according to Football Transfers.

Derek Adams has continued his Ross County squad overhaul by signing goalkeeper George Wickens on loan from Fulham and allowing  defender Ben Purrington to depart for Exeter City.

Wickens, 22, is yet to make a senior appearance for the west London club, although he got some experience of first-team football while on loan at National League side Wealdstone in the 2021-22 campaign.

The 6ft 5ins goalkeeper, who has represented England at under-18 level, will provide competition and cover for County number one Ross Laidlaw.

Left-back Purrington has moved to Sky Bet League One side Exeter for an undisclosed fee.

The 27-year-old joined the Staggies in July 2022 from Charlton and made
33 appearances, scoring twice.

Purrington is the fourth player to leave County this month, with Ben Paton departing upon expiry of his contract, Kyle Turner joining Raith Rovers on loan and Scott High returning to parent club Huddersfield.

The Staggies, who appointed Adams as manager in November, are currently 11th in the cinch Premiership and looking to ease their relegation concerns when the campaign resumes later this month following the winter break.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists his belief is endless in his forwards whether they score or not after Darwin Nunez had an impactful but not ultimately decisive role in the 2-1 Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg win over Fulham.

After coming off the bench in the 56th minute, the Uruguay international provided the assist for Curtis Jones’ deflected equaliser and then the cross from which fellow substitute Cody Gakpo swept home the winner.

On another day Nunez, who has scored just once in the last 16 matches, could have had a late hat-trick after being denied by goalkeeper Bernd Leno which would have virtually put Liverpool in the final ahead of the second leg in a fortnight.

“He plays outstanding, I have to say it. There are so many things I love about his game,” said Klopp.

“The first year was a year to adapt and he scored here and there but now he contributes in all games.

“The boys don’t start because they score or not score. My belief and trust in them, as long as they behave properly, is endless. They deserve it because of the effort they put in.

“I don’t know how to explain the Darwin situation. I’m so happy about Darwin’s reaction and how he takes it but you cannot be more unlucky in these finishing situations, that’s not possible.

“He does absolutely everything right, yet ball not in. And then he still sets up the other goal. I think that is really special to do that again.”

Liverpool’s substitutes have contributed 15 goals and 15 assists in all competitions this season, 12 better than any other Premier League team, and Nunez has been responsible for three goals and four assists.

His contribution was crucial as Klopp had no other options as the six other outfield substitutes were all academy graduates, the oldest of whom was 21-year-old left-back Owen Beck, recalled from a loan spell with Dundee.

The players currently absent, either with injury or international duty, are Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago Alcantara, Dominik Szoboszlai, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Wataru Endo, Kostas Tsimikas and Stefan Bajcetic.

“We have more players available usually but the boys who came on have real quality, obviously, already,” added Klopp.

“That we can bring Cody and Darwin from the bench, that is a proper change. On top of that, we changed the system and the formation and the set-up.”

Fulham boss Marco Silva was grateful to still have a chance in the second leg after they failed to capitalise on Willian’s 19th-minute opener.

“Two different halves. It wasn’t our best performance, even so first half we had a plan. We were ruthless from the first moment and really good from Willian when we scored,” he said.

“The second half was different, we struggled a bit more. We should manage them in a different way.

“They were a bit lucky the first goal, a deflection that changed completely the game, and the only thing that is disappointing is the way we managed the next 10 minutes.

“In a competition where we are playing two legs we cannot concede a fast attack like that. Liverpool had one or two chances to score the third and the reality is that Leno kept us in the game.”

Substitutes Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez came off the bench to help turn around Liverpool’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at home to Fulham and ensured they will take a 2-1 lead to Craven Cottage.

The pair were introduced early in the second half with the hosts trailing to Willian’s 19th-minute goal after a Virgil van Dijk error.

Liverpool were struggling for creativity without the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold – who helped turn a 3-2 Fulham lead into a 4-3 Reds win in last month’s Premier League meeting – but as at Arsenal in the FA Cup at the weekend Jurgen Klopp’s changes altered the game.

Nunez added a directness which had been lacking while Gakpo brought the composure and control to midfield Ryan Gravenberch had not before he was replaced by his Netherlands team-mate.

And the pair combined for Gakpo to score in the 71st minute, just three minutes after Curtis Jones’ deflected equaliser.

The last team to win at Anfield was Real Madrid in February. Before that it was another side in white, Leeds in October 2022, and Fulham – in their first League Cup semi-final – must have been encouraged by the start they had.

Klopp made six changes from the weekend and while that saw 20-year-old Conor Bradley deputise for Alexander-Arnold in only his second start of the season, it also included the return of Van Dijk.

The Netherlands captain was back after illness but his decision to head a ball aimlessly sideways on the edge of his area proved costly.

Andreas Pereira nipped in behind and cut the ball back to the penalty spot where a couple of neat touches from Willian opened up the space for him to fire through the legs of the recovering Dutchman and give goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher little chance.

Moments later Van Dijk was booked for catching Pereira in the face with an arm as his travails continued.

But his personal difficulties were matched by his team, who were too one-paced in their build-up.

Harvey Elliott was given Mohamed Salah’s position on the right wing but his role often seemed to require filling the space usually occupied by Alexander-Arnold, which meant dropping deep with Bradley pushing forward as an orthodox over-lapping full-back.

But apart from an early Jones attempt straight at Bernd Leno and a Diogo Jota narrow-angle shot across the face of goal chances were rare with Fulham having more on target in the first half.

The tempo increased after the break with Gravenberch shooting wide and Jota delaying a fraction too long having created space for himself with a square run across the penalty area allowing Antonee Robinson to block.

But as the hosts pressed for the equaliser Fulham were able to expose the space opening up in Liverpool’s defence and Kelleher got down low to parry a Bobby Decordova-Reid shot.

Alexis Mac Allister’s cross was turned over by Leno but the equaliser had an element of good fortune when Jones took aim from distance and went in off Tosin Adarabioyo’s back.

Leno was beaten again when Gakpo turned home Nunez’s near-post cross after linking with Jota.

Liverpool’s all-action Uruguay international could have all-but sealed Liverpool’s passage to Wembley before the return leg but a full-stretch Leno tipped over his header, pushed away a fierce drive and blocked his close-range effort.

Marco Silva lauded “top professional” Bobby De Cordova-Reid and said he deserves his recent success after he scored the only goal during Fulham’s 1-0 win over Rotherham in the FA Cup third round.

De Cordova-Reid’s 24th-minute long-range stunner was the difference on the night and marked his second in as many games after his winner in Fulham’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the Premier League.

And Silva, who previously hailed De Cordova-Reid’s leadership, believes his goal will lift his confidence after he netted his fifth of the season.

Silva said: “He deserves it because he’s a top professional, he’s a vocal guy and one of the great examples we have at the club in terms of focus, able to play in any position and he’s always there.

“He deserves all the credit and he deserves these good moments and good weeks.

“It’s important for us and him because he needs these type of moments to lift his confidence and he needs the confidence to keep going in the direction we want him to be.

“Bobby has the capacity to score and tonight it was a great strike from him.”

Fulham played eight matches in December and they will also have a busy January schedule with a Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool coming later this month.

Silva credited his side’s effort in recent weeks and acknowledged the busy weeks ahead.

Fulham will also play west London rivals Chelsea and Everton in the Premier League.

Silva added: “It’s a great sign for us as a football club and our fans should be proud of us that we’ve started (the season) well.

“We have kept the club in all the competitions, it was a tough and busy December and we will have another tough month for us.

“It is really important for us to win tonight and not have a possible replay.”

Rotherham boss Leam Richardson believes his side, who sit bottom of the Championship, will grow after the defeat.

The Millers had little to show for their efforts on the night but came close when Jordan Hugill’s attempt was ruled out for offside.

Richardson said: “Congratulations to Fulham. We are disappointed when we lose a game but great credit goes to the players, we nullified them in many areas and had a disallowed goal so we will only grow from that as a group.”

A Bobby De Cordova-Reid stunner saw Fulham beat Rotherham 1-0 in the third round of the FA Cup at Craven Cottage.

The Jamaica international capitalised on a mistake and scored his second in as many games after Sunday’s winner during Fulham’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the Premier League.

Victory for Marco Silva’s men has kept them in both cup competitions ahead of Fulham’s Carabao Cup semi-final clash against Liverpool later this month.

A cagey first few minutes in west London saw Andreas Pereira showcase his quick feet before his driven shot cannoned off a defender. Fulham appealed for a handball but referee Simon Hooper waved them away and a corner was given.

Rotherham had little to show for their efforts, and their low defensive line invited pressure in the 20th minute.

Fulham’s De Cordova-Reid threatened with a cross and the Cottagers’ Championship opponents were fortunate to not go a goal down from the following corner when Rodrigo Muniz’s effort was blocked.

De Cordova-Reid opened the scoring in spectacular fashion after 24 minutes.

Rotherham’s attempt to play the ball out from the back ran into trouble when Harry Wilson’s press forced a turnover and De Cordova-Reid’s long-range effort flew past Viktor Johansson into the top left corner.

A lethargic Rotherham rarely ventured into Fulham’s territory but Jordan Hugill’s offside goal from a Tom Eaves cross added to their frustrations.

Fulham nearly doubled their lead in the 42nd minute but Pereira was denied by a post.

Right-back Kenny Tete marauded forward and delivered a dangerous cross to the unmarked Pereira, who struck the ball into the ground before it cannoned off a post and into the path of Harrison Reed, whose close-range shot was deflected behind for a corner.

Fulham continued to be lively after the break. The dangerous Tete surged forward and his drilled cross caused Rotherham keeper Johansson to fumble the ball. The Swedish international’s blushes were saved when he made a stop from six yards out.

The hosts slowed the game down and dominated the ball but the game burst into life through Issa Diop after 76 minutes.

The centre-back picked up the ball and cut through Rotherham’s midfield before a neat combination with Timothy Castagne saw the towering defender’s first-time strike narrowly miss the target.

Fulham countered from a corner during five added minutes but Carlos Vinicius’ shot was saved after Willian squared it to him.

Fulham captain Tom Cairney has signed a new contract to stay at Craven Cottage until the summer of 2025.

Cairney, 32, has made 304 appearances since joining the Premier League club from Blackburn in June 2015.

“It means everything to me to extend my contract. 10 years is a hell of a long time in football, a very rare thing,” Cairney told the official club website.

“I said from quite early on that Fulham feels like home – a lot of players say that and then move on, but I feel like it’s obvious that I meant it as I’ll still be here 10 years later.

“I just want to thank everyone for the support over the years – the Fulham fans have been incredible with me, and I’ll just look to keep repaying them.”

Fulham owner Tony Khan said: “I don’t think that the importance of Tom Cairney joining Fulham in 2015 can be underestimated in terms of our recent history.

“He has been a great signing for the club whose contribution over the years has led to so many memorable successes on the pitch.”

Mikel Arteta lamented a “painful and sad” day as Arsenal’s Premier League title challenge suffered another setback with defeat at Fulham.

The Gunners now sit fourth in the table after a 2-1 loss at Craven Cottage only added to a home defeat to West Ham on Thursday.

Bukayo Saka had given the visitors the lead in west London, only for Raul Jimenez and Bobby Decordova-Reid to turn the game around for the Cottagers.

Five games ago, Arsenal were six points clear of champions Manchester City but are now level, having played one more game with Pep Guardiola’s side in World Club Cup action before Christmas.

Asked for his view on the game, Arteta said: “Painful and a sad day. That’s how I would sum it up.

“We had the chance to be top of the table after 20 games with the consistency that we’ve shown. We haven’t managed well enough to earn the right to win the game.

“Three days ago we lost a game that we deserved to win, today was a very different story.”

Arsenal had 30 attempts on goal as they slipped to a 2-0 loss to West Ham – but it was a different story here as Arteta’s side toiled to create chances on a wet and windy afternoon by the Thames.

“For sure,” the Spaniard replied when asked if the Fulham performance was more concerning than that against the Hammers.

“The other one, we didn’t put the ball in the net and they scored the way they did. It’s OK. Today the overall performance was more worrying.

“We weren’t good enough. We weren’t good enough in ball possession, we gave too many balls away. we didn’t have enough rhythm, enough threat.

“Defensively we were second best. We could not control the direct play. It was so easy for them to win that first and second ball and have the opportunity to run.

“Then we conceded two goals like we did against West Ham and when you do that in this league it’s going to be very difficult to win.”

Fulham head coach Marco Silva was left raising a glass to a good 2023 as his side returned to winning ways after a three-game losing streak in the league.

This was also the first time in over a year Fulham have come from behind to win in the Premier League and Silva was pleased with what he saw from his team.

“It really the best way to finish 2023, definitely,” he said.

“Our ambition was to finish on a high and react from the last two games. I really believe we deserve it. Over the 95 minutes we deserved it more.

“It was very good reaction after the first goal. The way we beat their pressure and began to play our way. We even had more chances to score a third goal.”

Fulham dug deep to stun Arsenal 2-1 at Craven Cottage to inflict a second successive Premier League defeat on Mikel Arteta’s men.

Bukayo Saka scored after just five minutes but the Cottagers rallied through Raul Jimenez and Bobby De Cordova-Reid to claim all three points and deny Arsenal the chance to climb to the top of the table.

The victory eased some pressure on Marco Silva, whose side ended a run of three straight defeats.

The Gunners landed the first blow when Kai Havertz drove forward from midfield and picked out Gabriel Martinelli. His shot was parried by Bernd Leno into the path of Saka who tapped home to make it 1-0.

Fulham had the chance to draw level after 14 minutes when Willian found the overlapping Antonee Robinson, who delivered a perfect cutback to Jimenez but the Mexican international’s shot was comfortably saved by David Raya.

Jimenez returned to the side after he served a three-game suspension after his sending off during Fulham’s 3-0 defeat at Newcastle and he looked eager to impress.

Willian’s quality shone through against his former side and after his deflected shot won a corner he produced a deft chip to partner Jimenez, who fired over.

And the home side’s persistence paid off with the equaliser in the 29th minute.

Willian wreaked havoc down the left and played in captain Tom Cairney, whose whipped cross found Jimenez and he produced a neat first-time finish to claim his fifth goal of the season.

The Cottagers completed the turnaround after 59 minutes as Willian sent a corner deep into the box and after Joao Palhinha’s header deflected off Declan Rice the ball bobbled into the path of De Cordova-Reid, who poked home.

A well-worked move saw Saka sky a volley from six yards out as it started to appear it was not going to be Arsenal’s day.

Jimenez beat William Saliba to a loose ball before he found Cairney but his long-range strike was magnificently stopped by Raya.

The Cottagers almost extended their advantage in the 88th minute when Takehiro Tomiyasu cynically fouled Harry Wilson and was fortunate to only be shown a yellow card by referee Josh Smith.

Andreas Pereira then saw his dipped effort rebound off Raya’s crossbar before the hosts successfully defended a barrage of Arsenal corners during five added minutes to claim the win.

What the papers say

Newcastle United are confident of landing England midfielder Kalvin Phillips from Manchester City , reports the Daily Telegraph. Juventus, Everton and Crystal Palace are also interested in the 28-year-old.

Manager Mikel Arteta says Arsenal are prepared to bolster the squad in January after injuries left them “exposed”, according to The Guardian. Arteta said the club would “try to make the right calls”.

Raphael Varane, 30, is being chased by former club Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, according to the Daily Mirror via Spanish outlet Sport. The Manchester United defender can negotiate a summer move from January with his contract up at the end of the season.

Any moves by Manchester United in the January transfer window will need to be cleared by Ineos after the company’s deal to buy a 25% share of the club.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Matthijs de Ligt: Arsenal are unlikely to make a move for the Dutch defender, 24, from Bayern Munich but he remains on their radar, reports The Athletic.

Antonee Robinson: Liverpool are interested in Fulham’s US full-back, 26, for a potential January signing, says 90 Min.

Fulham boss Marco Silva insisted his goalkeeper Bernd Leno “touched” but “didn’t push” a ball boy during the Cottagers’ 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth.

The second-half incident occurred when Leno went to collect the ball from the youngster’s outstretched hand before using his own hand to make deliberate contact with the shoulder of the ball boy, who appeared to take a step back for balance.

Leno, who seemed to take issue with the speed at which the ball was being returned, and had already been booked, was subjected to a chorus of boos.

The 31-year-old German later returned to apologise to the boy for the encounter, though his manager was adamant the interaction had been exaggerated.

Silva said: “Have you seen him pushing? I didn’t see this. Yes, he apologised. I spoke with Bernd about it.

“It’s clear he went to speak with the boy after that moment as the top professional that he is, the really experienced player that he is as well.

“He wanted to play quick. The ball boys, I don’t know who gave them instructions to hold always the ball to delay the beginning of the game again. OK, we are losing, he ran to the ball. I didn’t see him pushing.

“He touched the ball boy, he didn’t push the ball boy. They are different things, when you touch a ball boy or you push a ball boy. I am not English but I know the difference between one word and the other, and we have to say the truth in that moment.”

The PA news agency understands no action will be taken over the incident.

It was a low point of a frustrating afternoon for Silva’s men, who fell behind when Justin Kluivert scored on the stroke of half-time and a penalty needlessly conceded by Joao Palhinha allowed Dominic Solanke to score his 12th goal of the Premier League season – already more than he registered in his first 96 appearances in the competition.

Luis Sinisterra added a third in stoppage time as the Cherries extended their unbeaten run to seven and consigned Fulham to a third straight loss following back-to-back 5-0 victories to start the month.

Asked if he had complained about what he felt was a deliberate delay by the ball boys, Silva replied: “I was really so upset with our performance that I didn’t even have the energy to start to complain.”

Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola, who watched on from the stands as he served a touchline ban, said he had not seen a replay of the incident but, when asked if the ball boys had been instructed to slow down, replied: “No, no, for sure there is no instruction, for sure. This I can guarantee.

“I don’t know what happened exactly, but I think everyone for sure has to be careful because they are boys that are trying to help everyone, not only Bournemouth.”

The Cherries travel to Tottenham on New Year’s Eve having now taken 19 points from the last 21 available and matching their longest unbeaten Premier League run set in 2017-18.

“We want to keep it going,” Iraola said. “We’re not as bad as we looked at the beginning of the season, we’re not as good as we look now probably today. We’re somewhere in the middle.”

Dominic Solanke continued his impressive scoring form with a second-half penalty as Bournemouth secured a 3-0 victory over Fulham at the Vitality Stadium.

Andoni Iraola made two changes from the Cherries’ win over Nottingham Forest, and they combined to create the opener as a fine run by Alex Scott set up Justin Kluviert’s opener just before half-time.

Solanke made Joao Palhinha pay for bringing down Antoine Semenyo inside the box shortly after the hour mark, before Luis Sinisterra put the icing on the cake with a third goal in stoppage time.

Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s frustrations got the better of him late on as he appeared to push a ball boy, later returning to apologise to the youngster who seemed to take the incident in stride.

It was Bournemouth’s first home contest since Luton captain Tom Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch on December 16, and a pre-match on-screen tribute honoured those who had come to the Welshman’s aide, including Cherries midfielder Philip Billing who was widely praised for his alert response.

The Denmark international began his afternoon on the bench in favour of Kluivert, with Scott slotting in for the injured Lewis Cook.

It was a back-and-forth beginning to the encounter, Solanke with his first crack at a fifth goal in as many league appearances against the Cottagers and 12th of the Premier League campaign blocked by Tosin Adarabioyo.

The hosts, with boss Iraola watching from the stands as he served a one-game touchline ban, maintained their slight edge in the opening exchanges, with Fulham winning a handful of set-pieces but creating little in the way of chances.

A neat move from Semenyo to feed Kluivert nearly set up an opener but they were thwarted by an excellent intervention from Adarabioyo, who was also in the right place to deny a second decent opportunity for Bournemouth after Leno spilled a cross.

Adarabioyo’s headed clearance avoided any embarrassment, but the hosts were ahead at the stroke of half-time thanks to a brilliant run into the 18-yard box from 20-year-old Scott from near the centre circle and pass to Kluivert, who finished underneath Leno into the far corner.

Fulham, who had enjoyed a near-equal amount of possession in the first half, returned with more purpose to start the second as Antonee Robinson quickly called Neto into action from a tight angle.

It was just past the hour mark when Joao Palhinha sent Semenyo tumbling inside the area and the response from referee Tim Robinson was immediate, Solanke sending Leno the wrong way to double his side’s advantage.

Rodrigo Muniz had a chance to claw one back with a close-range volley, while Leno found himself in late trouble and was treated to a chorus of jeers when he appeared to push the ball boy.

Sinisterra’s cross was inches away from the outstretched foot of David Brooks as the Cherries sought a third.

Brooks had two more chances of his own, but it was Sinisterra who curled past Leno to seal a convincing home triumph.

Vincent Kompany believes Rebecca Welch’s performance during Burnley’s 2-0 win over Fulham was a “milestone moment” after she became the first woman to take charge of a Premier League match on Saturday.

Wilson Odobert’s curled strike and Sander Berge’s magnificent solo effort confirmed Burnley’s first win since their 5-0 victory over Sheffield United on December 2.

Welch made history having previously refereed an FA Cup fixture in 2022 and an EFL match in 2021.

Kompany, who spoke to Welch at full-time, said: “I wanted to congratulate her because it’s a big moment.

“After the game it’s fair to say that it’s a milestone moment and may there be more, and the best thing will always be when someone is judged on merit.

“But you have to have a first and this is it, so well done (to her) and I’m happy to be part of this moment.”

Victory ended a run of three games without a win for Burnley, and Kompany credited his side’s decisions in key moments while also talking up Berge and Odobert’s quality for both of their goals.

He said: “It was a really good performance. In the key moments the team did well and we were able to remain dangerous in most phases of play whether we had the ball, defending, the loose balls.

“It helped us have a performance and gave us a chance.

“We shifted our feet quicker, we had the intent to go forward and be dangerous. When the ball gets to the final third, it’s the individual quality of the players and they did really well.”

The towering Berge received the ball on halfway and was not challenged by any Fulham player before he drove forward to add Burnley’s second.

It was a source of frustration for Fulham boss Marco Silva, who called on his Fulham to be more ruthless, admitting that the defending for Berge’s goal was not good enough.

He said: “It’s a disappointing result for us. We are not ruthless enough at this level and we were punished by that.

“We were dominant in the first half and we created chances and we should score.

“The second goal, it can not happen. We let the midfielder run with the ball without opposition. We were completely out of balance in that moment.”

Burnley scored two superb goals to give Vincent Kompany’s side a deserved victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage in the Premier League.

Two long-range strikes from Wilson Odobert and Sander Berge gave Burnley their first win since December 2.

The 2-0 score-line meant a second straight league defeat for Marco Silva’s Fulham following last week’s 3-0 setback at Newcastle.

Burnley were camped in Fulham’s half in the early stages and created a chance in the sixth minute.

Brazil international Vitinho tucked inside and played a whipped cross to the head of Lyle Foster whose effort sailed over the crossbar.

Fulham went close themselves in the 13th minute after a moment of brilliance from Harry Wilson.

The tricky Welshman picked up the ball on the edge of Burnley’s box, sliced through the defence before his outside of the boot shot was saved by James Trafford.

Two more quickfire chances through Timothy Castagne and Alex Iwobi showed the Cottagers’ intent but Fulham missed the quality of the suspended Raul Jimenez.

Referee Rebecca Welch became the first woman to take charge of a Premier League match and she brandished a yellow card to Calvin Bassey after the defender struck Josh Brownhill with his hand.

And the chance of the match came in first half added time. Andreas Pereira put a wide free-kick into the danger zone and after a scramble in the box, Iwobi’s strike was cleared off the line to keep it level.

Burnley came out the blocks fast in the second half and took a 1-0 lead after 47 minutes.

A neat piece of play deep into Fulham’s half saw the ball at the feet of Odobert who produced a wonderful, curved strike into the right-hand corner of Bernd Leno’s goal.

And after 66 minutes the Clarets stunned Fulham and took a 2-0 lead.

The towering Berge retrieved the ball on half-way and drove into space. He entered the edge of Fulham’s box where he rifled his strike past Leno to double his team’s lead.

Actor Hugh Grant, a Fulham fan, was in attendance to witness the two festive blockbusters which gave the Clarets all three points.

And his team failed to produce a positive reaction late on and looked off the pace during six added minutes.

Rebecca Welch will create history on Saturday by becoming the first female to referee a Premier League match.

Welch will complete her remarkable journey from the playing fields of north east England to the top flight when she takes charge of Fulham against Burnley at Craven Cottage.

The 40-year-old from Washington in Tyne and Wear was still working in an administrative capacity for the NHS when she began her refereeing career in 2010.

Welch gained her badges through the Durham County Football Association and climbed through the ranks after taking charge of university and Sunday league games.

Just over a decade later – and two-and-a-half years after becoming the first woman to referee an English Football League match – Welch’s decisions will be scrutinised by millions of fans around the world.

It is no place for the faint-hearted, but Welch, who became the first female to act as fourth official in a Premier League game in November, breaks new ground with the backing of Burnley boss Vincent Kompany and Fulham counterpart Marco Silva.

“It’s certainly a benchmark and milestone,” Kompany said ahead of his side’s trip to London.

“I think she’ll take great pride in having done it herself. There’s a lot of women – in general, but in the game as well specifically – who will see this as a way to achieve at the highest level.

“I am always pro any kind of extension anyway because what it does is widen the pool of talent.

“We need access to all the available talent, the best referees in the best league in the world.”

Both Kompany and Silva are adamant that their players will behave no differently with Welch in the middle rather than a male colleague.

Kompany said: “It shouldn’t be really about the official or the manager. It should be about the players and, in that sense, I can’t see why we wouldn’t have that normality.

“Of course the story is bigger and deserves to be bigger, but once the whistle blows every actor on the day will want the players to be highlighted.”

Silva said: “For us it will be a normal situation. Of course it will be the first time so everyone has to talk about it, but when the game starts it is going to be another Premier League game, with people with good ability to be a manager, a player or to be a referee.

“We will not even talk about it before the match because for us she is the ref, like she was the fourth official some weeks ago in our game against Manchester United, and for us it was a normal situation.

“We have to always respect all the officials and she’s going to be welcomed. She got this chance because she deserves it for sure and she has the ability to be at the level she is going to be.”

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