The outstanding Luis Boa Morte rescued a point for Fulham against Manchester City with a second half strike at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
Claudio Reyna, who came close to signing for Fulham in the summer before deciding to join Stuart Pearce’s side, put the visitors in front but Boa Morte – a constant menace throughout – drove home an equaliser from close range with fourteen minutes left after being set up by Brian McBride.
After a scrappy start, Steed Malbranque released Boa Morte with a brilliant through ball but David James dived in front of McBride to cut out the Portugese winger’s dangerous cross. An unchanged City side replied quickly with Edwin van der Sar helping a curler from Antoine Sibierski over the crossbar. The visitors went in front on 20 minutes when Reyna, who started a fine move, followed up to finish after van der Sar had brilliantly kept out Sibierski’s diving header.
James denied Moritz Volz and McBride in quick succession before City finished the half on a high with the influential Joey Barton shooting wide after a fine run down the left flank. Boa Morte squandered a great chance to equalise in stoppage time, hitting the outside of the far post from six yards.
McBride went close again after the interval before Robbie Fowler failed to capitalise on a terrible back pass by shooting wide with only van der Sar to beat. Pembridge went close with a free-kick that just flew over James’ crossbar from distance and substitute Collins John almost levelled matters only for his deflected effort to roll fractionally off target.
Fulham’s persistence paid off in the 76th minute. Clark’s deep cross from the right tempted James out of his goal, but McBride won the aerial challenge with the Manchester City goalkeeper and Boa Morte swept the loose ball into an unguarded net. Tomasz Radzinski then wasted a great chance to win after John seized on panic in the City box after a throw in to pick out the Canadian international, but he flashed an effort wide.
FULHAM (4-4-2): van der Sar; Volz, Rosenior, Knight, Goma; Pembridge, Clark, Malbranque (Radzinski 66), Boa Morte; Cole (John 69), McBride. Subs (not used): Crossley, Rehman, Bocanegra.
GOAL: Boa Morte (76).
MANCHESTER CITY (4-5-1): James, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Jordan; Reyna, Barton, Bosvelt, Musampa (Bradley Wright-Phillips 86), , Sibierski; Fowler (Shaun Wright-Phillips 62). Subs (not used): Weaver, Mills, Thatcher.
GOAL: Reyna (20).
REFEREE: Neale Barry (North Lincolnshire).