Steed Malbranque ended Fulham’s seventeen-match wait for a Premier League away win as Chris Coleman’s side scored twice in the final five minutes to steal victory at Manchester City.
The hosts appeared in total control after Richard Dunne’s excellent opening goal but Stuart Pearce’s side let the three points slip through their grasp in a crazy finale. The lively Luis Boa Morte engineered an equaliser for Collins John before a sensational recovery from Liam Rosenior prevented Georgios Samaras from putting City back in front with an astonishing headed clearance from underneath his own crossbar. In the first minute of stoppage time, Fulham snatched victory when Malbranque lashed home Boa Morte’s pass after a thrilling counter-attack from deep inside their own half.
It was a remarkable finish to a game that seemed to have been well beyond Coleman’s side. They had started well with Rosenior shooting fractionally wide of the far post in the second minute having run onto Heidar Helguson’s cross. City quickly began to dominate proceedings but Antoine Sibierski squandered four opportunities to put them in front before half time.
Antti Niemi held a tame left-footed shot before Siberski sent two headers wide and, when he looked destined to score six yards out, the attacking midfielder could only fire straight at the Fulham goalkeeper. The visitors operated mostly on the break with Simon Elliott’s powerful strike bringing the best out of David James and Brian McBride nodding over after an encouraging Rosenior raid down the right.
The second half followed a similar pattern with City probing for an opener. Darius Vassell couldn’t quite convert Siberski’s clever pass and then wasn’t able to reach Albert Riera’s devilish delivery as he slid in at the back post. Micah Richards sent a header wide from a corner but the teenager played a crucial part in City’s opener when midway through the second half. Fulham failed to pick him properly from Joey Barton’s free kick and the defender’s strong header was thumped high into the net by Dunne, who had escaped the attentions of Phillipe Christanval.
Samaras might have made it two when he burst past two red shirts and sent a shot wide of the far post, before Fulham’s remarkable revival was sparked by a lovely move down the right. McBride rolled a clever ball down the right side of the City penalty area and Boa Morte beat Richards before squeezing a cross to John, who poked home off the post from close range to the delight of the travelling fans. Their long wait for an away win ended with Malbranque’s fine finish from twenty yards in stoppage time.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-5-1): James; Richards, Sommeil, Dunne, Distin; Barton, Reyna, Sinclair, Riera, Sibierski (Flood 80); Vassell (Samaras 66). Subs (not used): Weaver, Musampa, Jihai.
GOAL: Dunne (68).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Bridge, Knight (Christanval 26), Pearce; Elliott, Diop, Malbranque, Boa Morte; McBride, Helguson (John 66). Subs (not used): Crossley, Volz, Radzinski.
BOOKED: Diop, Christanval, Malbranque.
GOALS: John (84), Malbranque (90+1).