Jose Fonte last-minute equaliser earns Southampton point against Fulham
Last Updated: 07/10/12 6:04pm
Southampton scored a last-minute equaliser to move out of the relegation zone with a 2-2 draw against Fulham at St Mary's on Sunday.
Jose Fonte headed in his second of the afternoon from Danny Fox's free-kick to earn a share of the points after Saints appeared to have lost yet another game from a winning position.
The Portuguese centre-back had earlier forced home Adam Lallana's left-wing corner via his shoulder to give Nigel Adkins' men the lead after just four minutes.
- Man of the match: Jose Fonte bailed out his defensive partner time and time again as well as popping up with two vital goals.
- Goal of the match: Right-wing raids from Sascha Riether were a feature of the game and he crossed for Kieran Richardson to pass the ball into the net.
- Talking point: Southampton did manage to find a late equaliser but it is still two points dropped from a winning position. Will they rue their inability to hold onto a lead come May?
Fulham struggled to get to grips with the home side's pressing game for much of the first half but came out stronger after the interval and levelled things up with 20 minutes remaining.
Sascha Riether's cross reached John Arne Riise at the far post and his drilled effort found the net via the desperate outstretched foot of substitute Jos Hooiveld.
The hapless Dutchman could then only deflect Kieran Richardson's goalbound effort past his own goalkeeper with just minutes remaining as Southampton wilted under pressure from the visitors.
But with home fans streaming for the exits, Fonte climbed above Brede Hangeland to rewrite the script and salvage a deserved point for the newly-promoted side - leaving fellow new boys Reading now in the drop zone.
The hosts began brightly and the returning Morgan Schneiderlin fired a wayward warning shot, before Rickie Lambert headed into the side-netting after connecting with a Fox corner from the right.
Southampton had their second corner by the fourth minute and made their early dominance count.
Lallana floated the set-piece in from the left and Fonte's glanced header at the near post looped over goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and into the far corner.
Richardson was forced off in the eighth minute for the hosts and his departure forced a defensive reshuffle, with replacement Hooiveld forcing Maya Yoshida out wide.
Fulham began to make headway, with Lambert blocking Aaron Hughes from a corner before the Northern Irishman headed over.
Saints, though, were still looking dangerous and came agonisingly close to doubling their advantage as Jay Rodriguez beat the offside trap and pulled back for Lambert, whose right-footed effort just went wide.
The home side continued to press and Jason Puncheon twice came close from 22nd-minute corners.
Puncheon was denied on the goal-line by Riether and then, from the following corner, the wide man was adjudged to have fouled Schwarzer prior to prodding home.
Lambert forced Schwarzer into action at his near post after collecting a fine pass from Puncheon, but Fulham stepped up the pressure as half-time approached and home goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga was required for the first time in stoppage time when Hughes headed goalwards.
The Cottagers again came close as Hooiveld failed to deal with a hopeful long ball and Hugo Rodallega poked wide under pressure from Gazzaniga.
That momentum continued into the second half but it was still Southampton enjoying the best opportunities, with Lambert volleying over a driven Schneiderlin cross from the right.
Schwarzer spilt a hopeful 25-yard effort from Rodriguez after a great surge forward but Fulham were looking a more dangerous opponent and twice came close in the 60th minute.
Gazzaniga did terrifically to push a close-range Rodallega header away moments after Steve Sidwell bundled the ball onto the post.
Fulham could have also been awarded a penalty after Yoshida appeared to handle in the midst of the action.
Both sides made changes in a bid to change the match but it was an earlier substitute whose impact was felt on the south coast.
Riise drilled a low shot from the left and centre-back Hooiveld could only direct it into his own goal, putting Fulham level in the 69th minute.
The goal had been coming and the Cottagers threatened to go ahead, with substitute Kieran Richardson putting a Riether cross over.
Rodriguez nodded wide for the hosts in stoppage time and Saints paid when Richardson fired home off Hooiveld's leg two minutes from time.
The substitute looked to have earned Fulham three points but he gave away a late free-kick from which Fonte headed home to earn Saints a point.
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||3|
|6||Shots off Target||6|
|36.7||1st Half Poss.||63.3|
|45.9||2nd Half Poss.||54.1|
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