Moussa Dembélé hit a hat-trick as the Whites completed a good work-out to defeat D.C. United at the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, EverBank Field.
Dembélé’s exquisite finish started the ball rolling on 22 minutes, after Chris David’s pin-point pass opened up the D.C. defence, and the Washington outfit were punished further when Dembélé struck again on the stroke of half-time.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, the French striker added a composed finish to wrap up a convincing victory, while moving another 90 minutes closer towards match fitness.
The Whites walked out to the sound of London Calling, before lining-up alongside D.C. United and observing the United States national anthem.
Starting off with a midfield diamond, with David supporting the forward duo and Tim Hoogland at the base, the Whites took time to settle with the MLS outfit enjoying good possession but failing to trouble our back-line.
There were warning signs for United when Rodallega’s turn of pace drew a free-kick from Conor Shanosky and David stepped up to curled the ball over the wall and back off the post.
The American side threatened from wide areas, with Conor Doyle heading wide on 18 minutes, but three minutes later a defensive lapse was punished by Dembélé after David’s precision pass cut through the middle of the back-line.
It could have been two when Hyndman’s drilled effort whistled fractionally wide on 39 minutes after Collin Martin only half-cleared Kay Voser’s whipped cross, before Jesse Joronen was forced into action on the break, making a double save from Michael Seaton and then Doyle on the rebound.
On the stroke of half-time, Dembélé’s doubled his tally, taking advantage of Boswell’s sliced clearance from Konstantinos Stafylidis’ cross to fire in from six yards.
Patrick Roberts joined the action in place of Ryan Williams at half-time, as the Whites aimed to build on a solid first-half but they were almost undone when Seaton’s far-post header cleared the crossbar.
Smart skills from David opened up space for Kay Voser to cut inside and shoot but his left-foot effort never troubled sub goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s goal.
D.C. continued to move the ball well and Stafylidis and Cameron Burgess were called into action to make good blocks, but Seaton was left open to head the ball across goal and wide of Joronen’s post.
And Dembélé ensured he had the final word, calmly rolling the ball into the corner of the D.C. United goal after being afforded acres of space to complete his treble.
(Recap courtesy of Fulham FC)