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Fulham 2-2 Hull Prem 36 1314 The Guardian

last updated Monday 28th April 2014, 4:57 PM

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Paul Doyle at The Guardian

Fulham (0) 2-2 (0) Hull

Fleetingly, Fulham had a sight of safety; but they took their eyes off the ball and are now staring relegation in the face again. A second-half transformation - during which they scored twice in three minutes - seemed set to lift Felix Magath's men out of the bottom three for the first time in nearly three months, but, symptomatic of a season in which their next mistake never seems far away, Fulham then conceded twice to leave Hull feeling safe instead.

"If we hadn't got this point today we would have still been in trouble," said a relieved Hull manager, Steve Bruce. "Thirty-seven points might not be enough, but it usually is." While his side can now think more comfortably of the FA Cup final, Fulham go into their last two Premier League matches fearing that they have made life prohibitively tricky for themselves. "We have to win the last two games," said a downcast Magath in barely audible tones. "As long as there is a chance, we have to take it."

Midway through the second half, Magath had been feeling far more upbeat, as had the Craven Cottage crowd, who were singing in giddy endorsement of their team's second-half turn-around. The first period had been eye-bleedingly boring, the tension of the occasion combining with the conservatism of both teams to produce a match of little incident. But Magath altered his team's personnel, attitude and formation, and was rewarded with two goals in three minutes.

The change in emphasis was almost instantaneous, as Hugo Rodallega volleyed over the bar from a corner straight after the break. That was closer than Fulham had come in the entire first half, during which their best chance had been from a cross by Fernando Amorebieta, with which Rodallega had failed to connect.

Lewis Holtby, returning to the side after missing last week's defeat by his parent club, Tottenham Hotspur, was expected to provide much-needed creativity to Fulham, but he was disappointing in the first period. His half-time replacement, Ashkan Dejagah, made a much bigger impact. His strong running down the right made him a regular threat and, in the 55th minute, he made a breakthrough in spectacular style. After collecting the ball on the right and feinting past David Meyler, the Iran international curled a wonderful shot into the top corner of the net from 16 yards out. That was fair reward for Fulham's new-found ambition.

Things soon got better for the hosts when another substitute Kieran Richardson swung in a delicious cross from the left that Amorebieta nodded into the net. The celebrations around the ground showed that Fulham fans believed Magath was in the process of inspiring an escape similar to the one Roy Hodgson had helped the club pull off in 2008.

Fulham had chances to extend their lead, but Darren Bent, another substitute, squandered one, before Steve Harper made an excellent block to deny Dejagah. "That was the turning point," said Bruce, who made changes to help Hull get back into the game. Fulham inadvertently helped too. Sascha Riether deflected a shot on to his own crossbar in the 75th minute and Nikica Jelavic headed in the rebound. Suddenly, Fulham's jubilation turned to jitters.

Two minutes later, the Fulham bar was rattling again, when a long shot from Sone Aluko took a nick off Scott Parker and beat keeper David Stockdale. This time the ball bounced to safety.

A frazzled Fulham survived another scare in the 85th minute, when Ahmed Elmohamady blasted a low shot against the post. The hosts could not hold on. Three minutes from time, Shane Long was allowed to meet Aluko's cross at the back post and headed into the net.

"If you are leading 2-0 at home you have to come through," said Magath. "You remember the Champions League final between Liverpool and Milan? It was 3-0 and, in the end, Liverpool were champions. It always seems to be comfortable when you are leading, but it isn't." It certainly isn't comfortable now for Fulham.

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