Fulham 2 Birmingham 1
Fulham came back from an early set back to take all three points off of Birmingham City in a tense affair at Craven Cottage.
Roy Hodgson largely kept faith with the eleven that served him so well in the fine Europa League victory over the UEFA Cup holders, Shakhtar Donestk, the only change he made being the re-instatement of Nicky Shorey at left back in place of Stephen Kelly, Shorey was, off course, illegible for the fixture on Thursday evening.
Unfortunately, whilst matters got off to a good start on Thursday night it was the opposite this afternoon with Fulham going a goal down very early on (3 mins) and a spectacular affair it was as well with Chris Baird heading a Lee Bowyer cross straight past Mark Schwarzer.
As the action switched from end to end Baird did his utmost to stop Birmingham doubling their lead with a splendid block from a Keith Fahey shot whilst Simon Davies saw a volley saved by Joe Hart. Just past the quarter of an hour mark Brede Hangeland headed a Simon Davies corner over as Fulham sought the equaliser.
As Fulham pushed forward Simon Davies thought he`d scored after connecting with a Zoltan Gera cross but Hart produced a great save to deny the Welshman. Bobby Zamora, with his first effort of the game, saw his shot go wide. Half time and despite having more of the play Fulham went in trailing to that spectacular Chris Baird own goal.
No changes were made to the starting eleven`s as Phil Dowd got the second half underway. Birmingham had the first strike of the half when Fahey drove a shot wide. Hart then produced another good save from a Zamora volley. Schwarzer then produced a smart save from a Jerome effort as the action switched from end to end.
Just before the hour mark Fulham did get that vital equaliser. The goal, scored by Damien Duff was a classic. The Irishman cut in from the wing, exchanged passes with Zoltan Gera before hitting a shot that went past Hart and in off the post. Duff and James McFadden both received yellow cards for different transgressions before a McFadden shot, from twenty-five yards saw Schwarzer just get his finger tips on to it and deflect it onto the bar.
As time began to be of the essence, Hangeland blocked a Barry Ferguson shot. With fourteen minutes of normal time to go, Alex McLeish introduced Kevin Phillips in place of Jerome and another Birmingham substitute, Craig Gardner, forced Schwarzer into making a save. With seven minutes left Simon Davies was withdrawn and Bjorn Helge Riise introduced.
With minutes left Hart produced another save this time denying Danny Murphy. Just as you thought it was going to end all square Fulham came up with a winner and what a winner it was. Bobby Zamora steppe dup to take a free kick and with his left foot struck the ball beautifully with Hart only able to help it into the net. It was Zamora`s 15th goal of the season and with the game into stoppage time the winner!
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