MARTIN Jol identified his team's narrow win over Stoke City as one of the most important of the season.
Dimitar Berbatov's superb volley in first half injury time divided the sides at Craven Cottage – with Mark Schwarzer's second half penalty save from Jonathan Walters preserving the advantage.
“Over the season, there is always vital games and today was one of them,” Jol said. "I think these points were vital to us.
“If you saw the first half, we were the better team. But it is always difficult against them. They change the system, put all these big guys up front and that is not easy.
“You should score a second goal but we didn’t. They could have punished us for the fact we only scored one goal, but Mark saved the day for us.”
The penalty was conceded when Ashkhan Dejagah lifted his arms to protect his face and handled the ball just inside the area, and although it was harsh, Jol had no real complaints.
“It is a difficult situation for someone who is in their own box,” said the Dutchman.
“It would have hit his face and you want to protect your face and, of course, you cannot do that. You can’t take that risk. I‘m not sure all the referees in England would have given it, but I think you could have given it.”
Berbatov's wonder strike was no surprise to Jol, although he did say the Bulgarian has not been scoring as many spectacular volleys as he used to.
“I said to him a couple of months ago that he never scores from volleys any more and that is why he came up to me [after the goal],” Jol said. “In the past he did that all the time.
“But Dimitar always scores between 15 and 25 goals [a season] so it would be silly to think he couldn’t score 15-20 goals for us.
“Hopefully he will score other goals, but we have got other players on the bench who can make the difference.”