Fulham boss Chris Coleman saluted Brian McBride and Moritz Volz as Middlesbrough were dispatched 2-1 in a “dog’s war” at Craven Cottage.
Heidar Helguson converted a 12th-minute penalty won by Volz to give Fulham the lead against the run of play and McBride doubled the lead with a deflected second shortly after the half-hour mark.
German right-back Volz, playing out of position in midfield as another injury crisis grips the club, was in impressive form and Coleman was delighted with his side’s attitude.
He said: “I take my hat off to my players tonight. I don’t want to discuss the injuries, I don’t want to discuss who was missing.
“I want to discuss the lads who were out there with their sleeves rolled up.
“Volz was brilliant. He’s been itching to play right-back this season but injuries mean he’s been in midfield.
“We have a crisis in midfield and he didn’t ask any questions. Even if some of the guys come back I can’t leave him out of the team when he plays like that.
“Credit to him, I thought he was fantastic. Brian was superb as well. He’s probably one of the easiest players to manage. He’s a great professional.
“He’s a senior player and he was up for it in the dressing room. He knew what the game would be like.
“It was a dog’s war. It wasn’t pretty or graceful but we were a committed team out there and that was the big difference.”
The win moved Fulham four places up the Barclays Premiership to 11th but Coleman insisted he pays little attention to the table at this stage of the season.
He said: “Before tonight we’d won one in five, but now we’ve won two in four. That’s the way it is, it’s as fickle as that.
“I said at the start of the season if we can win two games a month we’ll be in a good position.
“We’re in a better position this year than last year, despite having a worse injury list. There’s something about us this season. I can feel it.
“Last weekend we lost 4-0 to Liverpool but we had to forget about that tonight. We had to bounce back today and to do so in the fashion we did was terrific.
“We played 4-4-2, worked hard for each other, put lots of crosses in the box and had two old-fashioned strikers – but still got three points. There’s a lesson there for us.”
Mark Viduka pulled one back for Boro in the 74th minute with a poor goal-kick from Antti Niemi gifting the opportunity but the visitors could not complete the comeback.