Dempsey stars again for Fulham

Fulham remain on course for their record Premier League points haul after the ever-impressive Clint Dempsey spurred his side on 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 free-kick into the top corner.

Sunderland levelled through Phil Bardsley's excellent 34th-minute strike but Fulham responded immediately as Moussa Dembele put the Whites back ahead with a 20-yard strike.

Cottagers boss Martin Jol will return to former club Tottenham on the last day of the season knowing his side lie one point shy of their previous record of 53 points, secured under Roy Hodgson in the 2008/09 season.

If the west Londoners achieve the feat, much of the praise will be deservedly directed at Dempsey in a season that he has netted 23 goals in all competitions.

The forward's future may be in doubt but it did not stop him opening the scoring with a superb 25-yard free-kick.

Bardsley temporarily brought the visitors level with an excellent strike only for Fulham to respond immediately, with Dembele seeing a 20-yard strike take a slight deflection off Michael Turner as it flew home.

The introduction of substitutes Nicklas Bendtner and Frazier Campbell saw Sunderland end on a high but they could not find a way past Fulham, who secured their fifth win in seven games to leave them with a record-equalling seventh-place finish within grasp.

The Whites were also boosted heading into the game by the return of manager Jol, who missed the recent trips to Everton and Liverpool through a chest infection.