Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Fulham raise hopes of great escape with fightback

in English Premier League 26 Apr 2008

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Fulham not only put off relegation with a stunning 3-2 victory here on Saturday but also left themselves with a chance of surviving thanks to three goals in the final 20 minutes against Manchester City.

Diomansky Kamara, signed for six million pounds from West Brom before the start of the season, scored two of those goals, including the 92nd minute winner after he collected Danny Murphy's through ball and beat Joe Hart with a terrific shot from a difficult angle.

For City and their manager Sven Goran Eriksson, the demoralising loss will have done little to ease concerns over his future at the club, given stories leaked by those close to owner Thaksin Shinawatra in recent weeks that he is to review all key employees over the summer.

The controversial former Thai politician was seen in the tunnel after the game looking less than impressed by events over the preceding half.

Fulham opened the game in impressive fashion, no surprise considering that injuries had forced Eriksson into a drastically re-shuffled, and wholly unimpressive, defensive line-up.

After three minutes, Jimmy Bullard was given the space to shoot wide from 25 yards then Simon Davies' cross from the right touchline picked out Clint Dempsey for a 15-yard shot which England under-21 keeper Hart did well to turn around his post.

Brian McBride, too, found the space and time to roll a dangerous ball across the City goal which Elano turned behind for a corner, a period of unrelenting Fulham pressure that was only eased by the opening goal.

Martin Petrov's darting run into the area exposed the usual frailties in the Fulham defence and his neat back heel found the unmarked Stephen Ireland on the edge of the area, the Irish midfielder curling a superb finish past Kasey Keller's dive into the far corner of the net.

City would double their lead just 11 minutes later but, in the meantime, they threatened to run riot against a Fulham team that wilted visibly at going a goal down.

Petrov's drag back from the by-line was aimed at Darius Vassell until Brede Hangeland made a timely interception and the Bulgarian winger concluded another exciting run with a cross which flew inches over Vassell's head.

There was no such error shortly after, however, as Elano's pass freed Vassell down the right and the powerful forward surged into the area, pushing his cross beyond the reach of two defenders for Benjani to slam the ball into the gaping goal from eight yards.

It was hard to envisage a way back for Fulham although City's unsure defending suggested they might at least claw back a goal to make their departure from the Premiership respectable.

A 34th-minute cross from Davies was the closest they came to a first half goal as the ball found the head of David Healy who forced a magnificent save from Hart, tipping the ball over his bar.

City opened the second half still in dominant form, Keller being required to make smart saves to keep out attempts from Vassell and Benjani but Bullard narrowly missed the City goal with a 64th-minute free-kick from the edge of the area, a sign that the comeback was on the horizon.

After 70 minutes, substitute Kamara collected a long pass out of defence and beat the hopeless Vedran Corluka, who had let the ball bounce twice, before driving his shot through the legs of Hart.

Worse was to follow for City in the 79th minute when Sun Jihai was judged to have hauled down another substitute Erik Nevland. Murphy strode up and his poor penalty was well saved by Hart before the midfielder was able to stroke the rebound home.

Chances came at both ends in a frantic finale, with Benjani wasting the best to edge his team in front when he passed up the chance for a clean shot on goal, but Fulham drew last blood two minutes into the three-minute stoppage time.

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