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Everton beats Fulham 3-1 for 5th consecutive Premier League victory

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LONDON — A second-half own goal from Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale and strikes from Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith secured Everton's fifth consecutive Premier League win at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The defeat leaves the Cottagers at the bottom of the table, five points clear of safety. Meanwhile, Everton are now on 60 points, four adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, albeit with a game in hand.

"This season we're fighting to be as high as we can in the table to have that European qualification would be an incredible achievement for the players and that's the way we're going to look at every game," said winning manager Roberto Martinez.

The home side started brightly, and almost took the lead after twenty-two minutes. The influential Lewis Holtby slid in Moussa Dembele, but Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard made a smart save with his legs to deny the Frenchman from breaking the deadlock.

PHOTO: Fulham's Lewis Holtby sits dejected after his team lost to Everton, at the end of their English Premier League soccer match at Craven Cottage, London, Sunday, March 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Fulham's Lewis Holtby sits dejected after his team lost to Everton, at the end of their English Premier League soccer match at Craven Cottage, London, Sunday, March 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

At the stroke of half-time, Holtby and Dembele combined again. Holtby's inviting cross found Dembele in the area, but his powerful header was kept out by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, leaving Fulham ruing a dominant first-half display without breaking the deadlock.

Despite struggling in the first half, Everton started brighter in the second and took the lead in the 50th minute, when a Naismith shot from the edge of the box took a deflection off Pajtim Kasami and rebounded off the Fulham keeper into the goal.

The hosts drew level in the 71st courtesy of a stunning 25 yards drive from Ashjan Dejagah. He found himself with the ball on the edge of the box, and a slip from Everton midfielder James McCarthy allowed the attacking midfielder a clear sight of goal, from which he finished with aplomb.

With a Champions League position in their sights, the away side responded well, and began to take control of the game. Aidan McGeady delivered a pinpoint pass to fellow substitute Kevin Mirallas, who took the ball expertly in his stride and shot past a diving Stockdale in the Fulham goal.

Steven Naismith sealed the Everton's fifth consecutive league win in the 87th when he guided the ball past a helpless Stockdale after Leighton Baines' pass.

"This was our best game up till now, so we are very disappointed, but we now focus on the next game" Fulham manager Felix Magath said.

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