Clint Dempsey's 23rd goal of the season put Fulham on course to a 2-1 victory against Sunderland.

The United States international - so many times the Cottagers' star man this season - put the hosts ahead after 12 minutes, firing home a superb 25-yard free-kick into the top corner.

Sunderland levelled through Phil Bardsley's excellent 34th-minute strike but Fulham responded immediately as Mousa Dembele put the Whites back ahead - and ultimately on course for three points - with a 20-yard strike that took slight deflection off Michael Turner as it flew home.

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