Football: Meulensteen enjoys first win as Fulham boss but they stay in drop zone

LONDON (AFP) - Relegation-threatened Fulham gave Rene Meulensteen his first win as their manager, with a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at Craven Cottage in an English Premier League football game on Sunday.

Steve Sidwell put the home side in front in the 21st minute, when he scored against his old side after lofting the ball over the advancing Brad Guzan.

Fulham, who previously had not scored two goals at home all season, then doubled their lead through a controversial penalty nine minutes later.

Alex Kacaniklic broke clear and charged into the box where he appeared to make the initial contact with Villa's Leandro Bacuna.

But the referee awarded a penalty and Dimitar Berbatov, after selling Guzan a dummy, rolled the ball into the bottom corner.

Victory saw Fulham, beaten 2-1 by Tottenham in Meuelensteen's first game in charge on Wednesday after he succeeded fellow Dutchman Martin Jol, climb one place into 18th spot but remain in the relegation zone.

However, their tally of 13 points left them level with London rivals Crystal Palace and West Ham, the two clubs either side of them in the table, and in the bottom three on goal difference alone.

Bottom-of-the-table Sunderland were now five points adrift at the foot of the table.

Premier League leaders Arsenal will go seven points clear at the summit if they beat Everton - fresh from a win over Manchester United - at the Emirates Stadium in Sunday's other top-flight fixture.

Villa's defeat means both Swansea and Hull will have the chance to leapfrog them into the top half of the table when they meet at the Liberty Stadium on Monday.