Premier League – Fulham shove Brum towards drop


Fulham climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 2-0 win at home to Birmingham City.

2007-2008 Fulham-Birmingham Stephen Kelly Diomansy Kamara - 0

Goals from Brian McBride and Erik Nevland gave Roy Hodgson’s side their third consecutive win and put them within sight of a dramatic escape from the drop.

Fulham climb to 17th place on 33 points, ahead of Reading by virtue of their less bad goal difference. Bolton, also on 33 points, play the late game against Sunderland.

Birmingham slump to 19th, a point behind, and will surely be relegated if they perform as badly at home to Blackburn Rovers on the final day.

While Fulham competed for each ball with real ferocity, Birmingham – often accused of over-physical play – were horribly timid.

Alex McLeish built a reputation for defensive solidity as manager of Rangers and Scotland, but his side lacked appetite for a scrap and a basic marking error handed McBride the opening goal.

That said, the visiting flair players did no better. Sebastian Larsson, James McFadden, Olivier Kapo and Mikael Forssell all contributed virtually nothing.

Fulham goalkeeper Kasey Keller‘s pristine kit may not even trouble the laundry man this week after he watched the game without having to make so much as a save.

The only genuine chance of the first half came in the eight minute when Jimmy Bullard squared a free-kick low for Simon Davies.

The Welshman shot low towards the right corner but Maik Taylor denied him with a sensational reflex save.

Otherwise it was slim pickings for neutrals, of which there were mercifully few at Craven Cottage.

Consequently they forgave Diomansy Kamara‘s constant straying offside, Danny Murphy‘s airshot and even Paul Stalteri‘s booking for an outrageous dive.

The decisive moment came seven minutes into the second half when Bullard curled in a free-kick from the left side.

McBride is such an accomplished header of the ball that when he escaped his marker there could be only one outcome, and the ball duly settled in the bottom corner of the net.

Mauro Zarate and Cameron Jerome came off the bench for Birmingham but they were no better than the men they replaced – Kapo and Forssell – leaving centre-back Radhi Jaidi as the visitors’ most dangerous attacker.

The Tunisian headed wide from Birmingham’s best chance of the second half but Keller remained serene throughout.

The killer goal came three minutes from time when Franck Queudrue missed an easy defensive header amd Nevland raced through before slotting past Taylor.

Alex Chick / Eurosport

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