A Timothy Fosu-Mensah own goal gave Huddersfield a 1-0 home win over Fulham, who replaced the Terriers at the bottom of the Premier League.
Huddersfield’s first home goal since April 14 was enough to give them their first win since the same day, and came from a stroke of good fortune when Fosu-Mensah diverted Christopher Schindler’s header from a Chris Lowe cross beyond Sergio Rico.
Fulham managed only a solitary shot on target throughout the whole 90 minutes at the John Smith’s Stadium to further crank up the pressure on manager Slavisa Jokanovic, whose £100m summer spending has returned only five points from 11 games.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, celebrated David Wagner’s third anniversary in charge by moving above Fulham in the table with victory, and remain inside the relegation zone only on goal difference behind 17th-placed Newcastle.
Philip Billing turned the heat up on a frosty opening in West Yorkshire by smashing the ball against the crossbar from 25 yards with 15 minutes gone as Huddersfield dominated early proceedings against a nervous Fulham, without puncturing their defence.
And with the hosts still very much on the front foot, Alex Pritchard tested Rico before the half-hour mark when his deflected drive was palmed away for a corner.
Moments later, tension turned to joy when Schindler’s header from Lowe’s cross deflected off Fosu-Mensah into the far corner for the hosts’ first home goal in 659 minutes.
Florent Hadergjonaj had a strong shout for a penalty shortly before the break when he appeared to have his legs taken away by Ryan Sessegnon, but referee Anthony Taylor denied the Terriers a chance to double their goal tally from 12 yards.
Fulham introduced Cyrus Christie and Kevin McDonald at half-time, and the changes did liven up proceedings, but beyond forcing a number of corners in the first quarter of an hour of the second period, the visitors made few inroads on their hosts.
At the other end Aaron Mooy fired over from Steve Mounie’s flick-on and Pritchard did likewise from a half-cleared corner, while in a rare attack Fulham had the ball in the back of the Huddersfield net from a crisp Andre Schurrle volley, but Aleksander Mitrovic was ruled offside in the build-up.
And in the end, the hosts did not need to add to their one-goal lead as they hung on for their first win of the season, and condemned Fulham to the bottom of the Premier League table.
Man of the match – Jonathan Hogg
Hogg was, well, a terrier in midfield for Huddersfield, making more tackles (seven) than anyone else on the pitch, and winning back possession for the hosts 13 times.
David Wagner: “It’s huge for us. We have now the winning feeling back, and a clean sheet as well. For sure, it is one of the most important wins we have had in the last three years, because after 10 games without a win and some unlucky situations, everyone needed to get the belief back and we have done that today.
“We are back in the race after 11 games of the season. If you look at the fixtures we have had, they have not been the easiest, and if you look at the ahead of us there are teams around our position coming up, and they will be open games. We were the team who really wanted to win today, and I’m delighted for the players.”
Slavisa Jokanovic: “We didn’t deserve much today. In the first 45 minutes we did not have intensity, and it did not give us enough space to move the ball. We were passing it without any sense. We put another midfielder in for the second half, but still missed the quality.
“I convince myself [I am right for the job] and that’s it, I don’t need to convince other people or think about that, I am thinking about myself and my team. The season is a long one, after 11 games Crystal Palace were bottom last season with four points. Everything is open, we are not at our best level at the moment, and we need to improve.”
Huddersfield host West Ham at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday at 3pm, while Fulham have an unenviable task of travelling to Anfield to face Liverpool in the early kick-off on Sunday at 12pm.
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