Fulham step back from the brink of oblivion

Manchester City 2 Fulham 3

Manchester City 2 Fulham 3

Fulham refused to switch off the Premier League life-support machine after an amazing comeback triumph over Manchester City.

With 20 minutes to go and trailing to first-half goals from Stephen Ireland and Benjani Mwaruwari, the second-bottom visitors seemed down and out.

But, incredibly, Diomansy Kamara's introduction sparked a fightback of which the watching Ricky Hatton would have been proud.

The former West Brom man struck first before Danny Murphy levelled, tapping home after Joe Hart had saved his spot-kick.

Then, after surviving a number of scares in the surge for victory, Kamara drove home in stoppage-time to complete a stunning victory, giving Fulham back-to-back away wins for the first time in almost five years and virtually ending City's hopes of European qualification.

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 Shinawatra 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.

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 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.

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.

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