Manucho the man for Tigers

04 March 2009 07:07
An injury-time winner from Manucho earned Hull City a 1-0 win at Fulham as their battle to avoid the drop received a shot in the arm. With Stoke winning against Bolton, the Tigers needed to get something from their visit to Craven Cottage and turned in a brave performance to hold their hosts for 90 minutes. Then with time almost up, substitute Manucho turned in Richard Garcia's cross to earn City a vital win. The visitors were indebted to keeper Matt Duke who pulled off a string of fine saves to deny Clint Dempsey and Andrew Johnson, among others, to keep out the hosts. At the other end, the away side carved out few opportunities themselves, Kamil Zayatte coming the closest when he failed to get enough on Sam Ricketts' inswinging free-kick before the on-loan striker sent the travelling supporters into dreamland. A solitary win in their last 18 Premier League encounters had sent City into freefall but the victory has put them five points clear of the drop zone. Tigers boss Phil Brown, who saw Ian Ashbee, Craig Fagan and Michael Turner pass fitness tests, buried the hatchet with Geovanni by including the Brazilian in his starting line-up. Fired up, Geovanni was in the thick of the early action, firing a free-kick a hair's breadth wide of the left post. Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer dealt with a looping header by Daniel Cousin as the visitors continued to press. The visitors' goal came under pressure for the first time in the 12th minute when Bobby Zamora jinked his way into a shooting position only to fire wide. An incisive run from Geovanni cut Fulham open but Bernard Mendy's ball into the box was poor, wasting the Brazilian's good work. Simon Davies and Paul Konchesky combined to set up a half-chance for Johnson with the little striker defying gravity to connect with the ball only for his header to sail wide. Hull's defence was unlocked once again in the 27th minute but Johnson over-ran Zamora's pass while Dempsey saw his follow-up effort at the far post blocked. With Davies prominent Fulham were beginning crank up the pressure on an increasingly ragged Tigers back four. Regaining his composure after a string of poor touches, Zamora teed up Davies to perfection but the Wales midfielder smashed his effort into the turf and over the bar. Johnson forced a fingertip save from Hull keeper Duke seconds after the break and then it was Zamora's turn to cause panic in the visitors' defence. He backed into Kevin Kilbane, who was all over the former West Ham marksman, and tumbled to the floor but referee Mike Jones was unimpressed by his penalty claim. Lightning reactions from Duke then kept out a blistering drive from Dempsey and moments later Johnson was denied on the line by Mendy. Johnson tried his luck from long range but found Duke waiting while at the other end Craig Fagan set up Cousin who blasted high. Superb approach play created a gilt-edged chance for Zamora but amazingly he squandered a simple tap-in from three yards out. For all Fulham's dominance the score was still level and in the final 15 minutes the balance of power began to shift. Brede Hangeland and Dickson Etuhu were booked as the home defence began to struggle in the face of several rapid counters. Duke kept out Dempsey and then Turner tackled Johnson in the nick of time as Fulham searched in vain for a late winner. Instead, the decisive blow came from the Tigers deep into injury time with Garcia picking out Manucho for the Angolan to bundle home.

Source: SKY_Sports