English Premiership

Rodallega revives Fulham's bid

2014-04-05 20:18
Hugo Rodallega (AFP)

Birmingham - Fulham breathed new life into their bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League as Hugo Rodallega's late strike sealed a crucial 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Saturday.

Felix Magath's team began the day bottom of the table, but they moved up to 18th place thanks to Colombia striker Rodallega's winner with four minutes remaining at Villa Park.

Kieran Richardson had put Fulham ahead just after the hour before Grant Holt equalised with his first goal for Villa nine minutes later.

Although Fulham remain five points from safety, the result will give them renewed hope that a great escape is possible.

Christian Benteke's Achilles tear in training this week was a huge blow for Villa, who lacked a cutting edge without the powerful Belgium striker.

Magath, who gave a second debut to Mahamadou Diarra following his return to the club, was forced to play down speculation this week that his job was in danger after only one win in his first six games.

His side had the first effort on goal, though, as Cauley Woodrow headed over Pajtim Kasami's cross with two minutes gone.

Woodrow was heavily involved and Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan had to be alert when his shot was deflected, while Lewis Holtby and Steve Sidwell also tried their luck as the visitors ended the half strongly.

Magath was clearly not happy with what he had seen, though, and he made a double substitution for the second half, with Rodallega replacing Woodrow and Ashkan Dejagah coming on for Kasami.

Villa were inches away from taking the lead as Holt chested the ball into the path of Bacuna, who slammed a shot against the near post via the fingers of Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale.

But it was the visitors who made the breakthrough in the 61st minute as Dejagah cut in from the right and teed up Richardson for a thunderous strike.

Fulham's lead lasted only nine minutes, with Holt's header from Marc Albrighton's corner finding its way through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner.

A clever dummy from Dejagah looked to have set up Holtby for a certain goal as he took the ball around Guzan but, from four yards out, his shot was somehow cleared off the line by Matthew Lowton.

It was an astonishing piece of defending and, not surprisingly, left Holtby with head in hands.

But the final twist came at the other end in the 86th minute as Holtby's cross was flicked into the bottom corner by Rodallega to snatch the points.

Read more on:    fulham  |  english premiership  |  soccer
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