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Fulham 2-1 Middlesbrough: Cottagers on the up

last updated Tuesday 19th December 2006, 7:03 AM
Brian McBride scored the winner
Brian McBride scored the winner


Fulham survived a late flourish to climb four places in the Premiership with a 2-1 victory that heaps further pressure on Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate.

Chris Coleman's side had lost four of their last five matches heading into this Craven Cottage showdown but goals from Heidar Helguson and Brian McBride stopped the rot.

Helguson hit the first from the penalty spot after George Boateng had brought down Moritz Volz and McBride doubled the lead with a shot that deflected off Chris Riggott.

Boro set up a nail-biting finish for the Cottagers when Mark Viduka pounced in the 74th minute following a dreadful goal kick from Antti Niemi but their search for the equaliser met with failure.

They could scarcely believe their luck at slipping behind after dominating the opening 10 minutes with a scintillating passage of play that left Fulham chasing shadows.

The Cottagers, with their midfield decimated by injury once again, appeared to be facing a long night but Volz's dart into the box and Helguson's subsequent penalty saw the initiative change hands.

Viduka raised hopes of a comeback but Fulham did not buckle for a second tome to ensure the Teessiders' search for their first Premiership away win of the season will continue into the Christmas period.

Southgate has presided over a miserable spell at the Riverside with Boro accumulating just six points from a possible 27 and they only sit above the relegation zone on goal difference alone.

It looked so different early on, however, with a stunning start seeing Stewart Downing clipping the top of the goal with a fourth minute free-kick.

A floating corner from Downing was punched clear by Antti Niemi and the England winger continued to cause havoc in the Fulham ranks with a low cross that Zat Knight cleared with a diving header.

Boro were breaking through the home defence with ease, helped on one occasion by Tomasz Radzinski losing the ball to James Morrison who beat Franck Queudrue and Philippe Christanval before testing Niemi.

Moritz Volz
Moritz Volz, man of the match
perforance capped by forcing
the opening goal

Fulham were under heavy pressure but stunned the small travelling support into silence by taking a shock 12th minute lead.

Volz weaved into the penalty box from the left only to be clipped on the ankle by Boateng and referee Mike Dean, who was well placed, instantly awarded the penalty.

Helguson stepped up and sent Mark Schwarzer the wrong way by tucking the ball into the bottom right corner.

Boro sought an instant response but Christanval came to the rescue by clearing a menacing Morrison cross.

Radzinski should have doubled Fulham's lead in the 19th minute but, with only Schwarzer to beat, he fired his shot straight at the Boro keeper.

A Helguson effort was blocked by Riggott and Queudrue headed just wide as the Cottagers began to take control of the match.

The tempo slowed following a frantic opening 25 minutes but Downing and Morrison continued to threaten down the flanks, frequently beating players and breaking into the box.

But Fulham, who had played through their shaky start, went 2-0 ahead through McBride in the 35th minute.

Radzinski did the initial damage with a precision pass to McBride on the edge of the area and the USA striker's shot took a slight deflection off Riggott before finding the bottom right corner.

Tenacious work from the impressive Volz set up another chance for McBride but he dragged his effort inches wide.

Heidar Helguson
Iceman Heidar Helguson caused
Boro problems all evening and
scored a text book penalty

Boro replaced Julio Arca with Lee Cattermole, who missed the 1-1 draw with Wigan through suspension, for the second half.

There were a few worrying moments when Queudrue tripped over Stuart Parnaby and crashed into an advertising board but the Frenchman, making his first appearance against the club he left for Fulham in the summer, was soon back on his feet.

Schwarzer came to the rescue in the 63rd minute, backpedalling furiously and getting a hand to Helguson's looping header from Liam Rosenior's floating free-kick.

Boro had faded as an attacking force with Fulham pressing forward in search of the third that would put the result beyond doubt.

It nearly arrived in the 68th minute but Helguson nodded Queudrue's ball straight at Schwarzer when anywhere else and it would have been a goal.

Niemi, back from an operation to remove cartilage from his knee, blundered to help Boro pull one back.

His goal kick only went as far as Yakubu who headed to the feet of Viduka and the Australian striker raced forward before expertly steering the ball over Niemi.

Substitute Adam Johnson drew a fine save from Niemi before a clash of heads between Queudrue and Yakubu halted play.

Four minutes of injury time were added on but Boro's efforts to grab the equaliser were frustrated as Fulham clung on for victory.

Fulham defender Moritz Volz urged his team-mates to use their 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough to lift themselves away from the relegation zone.

Volz was fouled for a first-half penalty - converted by Heidar Helguson - before Brian McBride added a second and even Mark Viduka's goal 16 minutes from time could not prevent the Cottagers claiming victory.

'We knew there was a bit more pressure on us, especially with West Ham beating Manchester United,' Volz said.

'We knew we had to get some kind of result and we set ourselves a target of getting a win here and following that up with a home win against West Ham (on Saturday).

Match Stats Fulham Boro
Goals 2 1
Possession 50% 50%
Goal attempts 12 17
On Target 6 10
Corners 5 6
Off-sides 3 0
Fouls 19 16
Yellows 0 0
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet

'We need to get on a run to get positive and get us back up the table.'

Goalscorer McBride paid tribute to the defence for holding on after the interval.

'In the second half we didn't have much of the ball. They pushed up but we held firm at the back. It was a good win for us,' he told Sky Sports.

Fulham boss Chris Coleman highlighted an improvement in his side's attitude as a major factor in the victory.

He said: 'It was an easy team-talk because we've got so many bodies missing. It's nine now, they are dropping like flies. It was a game we needed to win tonight, I said to the guys `Don't be nervous, it's not a relegation battle'.

'But it was a nervous start but luckily we got the penalty and settled down. Gave the goal away with a poor kick and we had knocked off at the back and we've got to brush up on that.

'Tonight was a really big game - a tough game - but I'm delighted with the lads, the attitude was much better than it has been in the last few games.'

He added: 'The West Ham game is going to be very interesting and another tough game. But if we manage to get three points it's going to make a big difference going into the Christmas games.'

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate was disappointed with his team's inability to turn pressure into goals.

'Even after the penalty we created chances and we came in at half-time not believing we were 2-0 down,' he said.

'We never gave up and I thought we deserved something from the game but you can't give teams a goal start never mind a two-goal start.

'We wanted to have a go at Fulham. I thought we caused them a lot of problems but I can't ask for any more commitment from my players.'

Fulham: Niemi, Rosenior, Christanval, Knight, Queudrue, Routledge, Brown, Volz, Radzinski (Bocanegra 70), McBride, Helguson.
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Runstrom, Zakuani, Niclas Jensen.

Helguson 12 pen,
A foul by George Boateng on Moritz Volz in the box led to a penalty. Heidar Helguson took the penalty right-footed, paused in middle of run up, sent the goalie the wrong way and put the ball straight into the bottom-right corner of the goal.
McBride 35
Brian McBride collected a fizzing ball in the "D" of the penalty area with his back to the goal, he turned and placed a right-footed curling shoot into the bottom-right corner of the goal. The assist, a pass, was by Tomasz Radzinski from the left wing.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Parnaby (Wheater 88), Davies, Taylor, Arca (Cattermole 46), Riggott, Morrison (Johnson 73), Downing, Boateng, Yakubu, Viduka.
Subs Not Used: Jones, Christie.

Goals: Viduka 74.

Att: 17,000

Ref: M Dean (Wirral).







Source soccernet
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