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A delighted Sascha Riether hailed Fulham’s durability after the Whites held to record another vital victory over Norwich City to strengthen their survival bid at Craven Cottage yesterday.

The German full-back was a key part of a disciplined defensive effort that saw Felix Magath’s men absorb several prolonged periods of pressure from Norwich and move to within two points of safety thanks to Hugo Rodallega’s second winner in a week. The momentum provided by back-to-back wins will give Fulham a real boost as they head into a tricky London derby at Tottenham next weekend.

It was a fantastic result. “Everyone in the ground knew how important the game against Norwich was, in many ways it was make or break. We gave ourselves a much better chance of staying up after the win at Aston Villa, and it was vital that we built on that performance – which we did. We have now taken six points from our last two matches, and as a result, our position in the table is a lot more positive.

Riether freely recongised that Fulham had to scrap for the three points with ambitious Norwich, under new manager Neil Adams, pushing forward at every opportunity.

There was some courageous defending at times. It wasn’t an easy three points, but we always knew that we would have to dig in and fight. Norwich needed the points as well, so it was a real battle. They actually played very well at times, and there were definitely a few scares, but thankfully Stocko kept us in the game with some brilliant saves. He’s an important player for us, because that’s what he does.

But for us it didn’t really matter how we got the points, just as long as we did. Of course, we are very, very happy and hopefully this will be another performance to build on.

Riether was full of praise for Rodallega’s priceless contribution – especially as his dramatic impact on Fulham’s season has come after the Colombian has had to be patient under the new manager.

Hugo is a great guy and he’s really stepped up to the challenge. He’s been taking his chances, and that’s something we had possibly been lacking. He’s scored two in two, and you can see that he wants even more. He was a real threat against Norwich and he led the line really well. His movement was good and was always there for his teammates. He even played his part at the other end when heading a chance for Norwich off the line. It was one of those games where everyone had to do their bit, though.

The German international was also quick to acknowledge of the importance of a raucous atmosphere at Craven Cottage, similar to the vocal backing that Fulham received on the road at Villa Park last week.

The fans have been magnificent and they’re really playing their part. They were so loud against Aston Villa when there was just three thousand of them. On Saturday, in a packed Craven Cottage, well, they were simply fantastic. They really were our twelfth man, and they were right behind us from the very start. We went over to see them at the end and it was great to share that moment with them. With four games to go, we’re all hopeful that there will be more to celebrate.

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Felix Magath admitted Fulham were fortunate to emerge from their crunch clash with Norwich with all three points but praised the predatory instincts of forward Hugo Rodallega for putting their survival bid back on course.

The Whites were indebted to the Colombian striker for a second week running after Rodallega, who has had to bide his time and wait for an opportunity under Magath, followed up his winner at Aston Villa with the only goal of this vital game at Craven Cottage.

I am glad that Hugo is now showing that he is a very good striker and he is now in very good shape. We need Hugo.

The German coach was also full of praise for goalkeeper David Stockdale, who made two superb saves before Rodallega’s winner, and has firmly established himself as Fulham’s number one.

Today we are lucky, Norwich were the better team but our goalkeeper was very great today.

Magath also reserved warm words for Mahmadou Diarra’s resilience after the veteran Malian midfielder – sidelined for much of the season by two serious knee injuries – produced a combative display to match the one that proved so important at Villa Park last week.

It is little wonder that he plays so well. Last week he played ninety minutes and today he almost played ninety again and he helps us a lot with his experience.

The rousing support from a near capacity Craven Cottage also helped Magath’s side to hold onto their slender lead – and Magath urged the supporters to recreate that atmosphere in the closing weeks of the season.

That is the way we can stay up in the league, with this support from our fans.

 

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