Kamara double rescues Fulham
Cottagers stun City with late three-goal salvo
Last Updated: 26/04/08 10:45pm
Kamara: Two goals
Fulham still have hope of Premier League survival after two goals from Diomansy Kamara completed a stunning fightback as they beat Manchester City 3-2 at Eastlands.
The Cottagers trailed 2-0 at half-time, goals from Stephen Ireland and Benjani seemingly setting City on their way to a third straight win under the gaze of their owner Thaksin Shinawatra.
But substitute Kamara began the great escape with a goal after 70 minutes before Danny Murphy equalised, slotting in the rebound after Joe Hart had pushed away his 77th minute penalty.
City wasted a host of chances to nick the points in the closing minutes, before Kamara raced clear down the left and beat Hart with a driven left-foot shot.
Fulham are still three points adrift of safety with two games remaining, but after an hour's play they appeared to be heading for the Championship.
Although there were various permutations that would have kept Fulham afloat, the bottom line for Roy Hodgson was that results, which have not been good enough since he replaced Lawrie Sanchez in December, needed to improve fast.
Certainly, the Cottagers began with a sense of purpose and drive but their confidence visibly ebbed away once Ireland had smoothly deposited his wonder strike into the top corner.
There had appeared little immediate danger when Martin Petrov slipped a pass to the young midfielder but Fulham failed to close Ireland down, offering the opportunity to curl a shot goalwards.
Still, Fulham could have hardly expected it to end up being so precise, leaving Kasey Keller no chance of keeping it out.
If that came out of the blue, Benjani's clinical finish to Darius Vassell's cutback was fairly predictable, leaving Hodgson to slump in his seat and Thaksin to enjoy his first half of football at Eastlands since the visit of Tottenham six weeks ago.
Should the City owner take a bit of time for calm reflection, he might decide removing Sven-Goran Eriksson, whom he is due to meet in the next day or so, within a year of appointing him, is not the wisest move.
After all, most of Eriksson's signings, the latest being Benjani, have been worthwhile acquisitions, the entertainment value has risen and, most importantly, results have improved markedly.
Indeed, while, in his extensive interview with the match programme, Thaksin spoke of a three-year plan that will take City into Europe by the end of next season and the Champions League 12 months later, Eriksson had harboured hope of delivering part one of the challenge early.
That, almost non-existent, possibility would presumably meet with Thaksin's approval since it appears the owner is not intent on a major summer spending spree.
He is instead preferring to keep his powder dry for the assault on the top four which, as Tottenham, Everton and - a bit further back - Newcastle would testify, is a bit harder to break into than he might think.
Mohamed al-Fayed has long since scaled down his lofty claim of making Fulham the Manchester United of the south and, given his troubled year on the personal front, it is not entirely predictable what will happen should the axe fall on his club's top flight future.
And, for a long time, that is precisely what looked like happening at Eastlands.
Even after City's early double, Keller continued to be the busier of the two goalkeepers, although opposite number Hart was the more acrobatic.
Hart had already denied David Healy with a superb reaction save just just before the break when he palmed away Jimmy Bullard's free-kick midway through the second half.
At that point, Fulham looked spent. Yet, from virtually nothing, there were given a new lease of life when Murphy's long ball found Kamara.
The former West Brom man somehow turned past Vedran Corluka before firing through Hart's legs.
With the stakes suddenly raised considerably, Hart was required again to keep out a goalbound Bullard free-kick as Fulham strained for the equaliser.
And Fulham were handed the opportunity they craved when Sun Jihai dragged down substitute Eric Nevland 12 minutes from time. Murphy strode up and though Hart saved the former Liverpool man's first effort, he was helpless to prevent him tapping home the rebound.
The scene was set and the finish was perfect for the visitors as Kamara burst through in the final minute and beat Hart at his near post to give Fulham a priceless win.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Fulham|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||10|
|8||Shots off Target||6|
Barclays Premier League
|7||West Ham United||22||36|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||22||22|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||22||19|