Washington striker Paul Cannell maintains the easiest and quickest way to score is to shake up the opposong goalkeeper.

After spending the first half intimidating Philadelphia net man Keith Eron, Cannell slipped in two second-half goals to propel the Diplomats over the Fury, 2-1, yesterday before 12,765 at RFK Stadium.

"I told you I would score two," Cannell said. "I'm a man of my word. He (Van Eron) was terrified. Instead of punching me, he should have punched the ball out of the net."

Van Eron, who spent much of the game getting off the turf after being flattened by Cannell, eventually decked the Dips striker with a "phantom punch" late in the second half. But the damage already had been done by Cannell, who had not scored since getting three goals against New England three weeks ago, but today knocked in his seventh and eighth goals of the year.

"If I had hit him, he wouldn't have gotten up," said a tired and frustrated Van Eron. "I only put my fists to his cheek, and he fell down like I killed him.

"It hurts when someone like him scores. You try to shut him up by shutting him out. He should have been thrown out for kicking me in the stomach. But he did get the goals."

After watching dull listless first half, the second largest home crowd this season came to life after intermission as Washington began putting pressure on the Fury defense.

The crowd seemed to sense the visitors, who had not won on the road in eight games, eventually would crack, even though they outshot the Dips, 8-3 in the first half.

Tommy O'Hare set up the first Washingon score with a beautiful high floating, chipped pass into the Fury box. Canell planted himself and leaped over defender John Dempsey to head the short attempt past Van Eron at the 58:07 mark.

"He pushed Dempsey before the shot," claimed Van Eron, who had no chance to make the save.

Cannell supplies the insurance goal at 78:56 when he put in a rebound off Van Eron and another Fury defender defended to give the Dips a 2-0 advantage.

It came off a blocked 20-yard attempt by Boby stokes. The ball caromed to Cannell, who blasted it into the middle of the net.

"I thought either Bobby would score or the ball ball would be blocked," Cannell said. "It bounced right back to me and I caressed it."

Washington is 11-6 with 99 points, trailing the Cosmos (13-4 and 117) in the Eastern Division of the North American Soccer League's National Conference.

The Diplomats were the aggressors for a change yesterday. They were called for 23 fouls to Philadelphia's 14. Cannell had five fouls and picked up a yellow card for bumping Van Eron late in the first half.

After Van Eron got up, he hit Cannell in the back of the head with the ball. That did not faze Cannell who turned around and kicked the ball in the net. But referee Paul Avis already reached his pocket to nail Cannell with his third yellow card this year. The goal, of course, did not count.

Washington's attack was a bit sluggish early on, as several previously injured players struggled to get into the flow.

Jim Steele was back in the lineup after being sidelined six weeks with a broken jaw. Joe Horvath returned after missing three games with strained knee ligaments, and Cannell was playing again after being out of last week's 3-2 loss to Rochester with a score ankle.

Steele and centerback Mike Dillon were outstanding on defense. Steele said he actually "felt comfortable at his old position, sweeperback" despite not playing there all year.

"I do a lot of talking back there. It's just a matter of the lads getting a little confidence," he said. "Except for the goal we gave away, we did fine on defense."

The Fury Goal, a blooper shot by Pat Fidelia over Dillon and goalie Bill Irwin, was the seventh gift goal by the Dips in the last seven games, according to Coach Gordon Bradely.

The score, which came at 80:08, was the Fury's final shot attempt of the game. The Fury fell to 5-12.

"Neither Mike nor I made a move to clear out the ball," said Irwin who had only one save. "Other than that shot, they didn't pose much of a threat."

Washington did a good job of stopping David Robb, the NSAL's No. 2 scorer with 30 points, and Frank Worthington, who has 13 points. The two managed anly five shots between them and were seldom in the game.

"We're still giving away goals," Bradley said. "We can't continue to do that. We just couldn't seem to get thiings together out there. But we'll take the win. CAPTION: Picture, Fury goalie Keith Van Eron closes eyes and appears to shy away from onrushing Diplomat striker Paul Cannell, who tormented the keeper from the start and victimized him for two goals in Washington's 2-1 victory at RFK Stadium. By Lucian Perkins - The Washington Post