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Fulham 6-2 Birmingham City: Player ratings

Olly Johnson rates Fulham’s performances after the Whites scored six again last night – this time against Birmingham City

Marek Rodak: At the time I thought Rodak couldn’t have been expected to save either of Birmingham’s goals but looking at replays and being slightly harsh, you may suggest he should’ve tipped Ivan Sunjic’s shot behind for a corner. Aside from a comfortable save down to his left at the near post he didn’t have enough to do to justify a higher score. 6

Denis Odoi: Old reliable Odoi was selected over Tete at right back and, as he did earlier in the season, when Tete was injured, he filled in superbly. A few shaky touches throughout the game showed he may have been short of match practice but overall he was solid and with a great low cross he put one on a plate for Kebano to grab our second of the game. 7

Tim Ream and Tosin Adarabioyo: There isn’t a huge amount to say about the two centre backs, two goals conceded might suggest they had poor games but both goals were almost unavoidable from their point of view and chances were kept to a minimum for the remainder of the game. Ream almost got caught out in the first half and a lack of pace without Robinson covering showed his weak side. Tosin enjoyed spraying the ball across the pitch throughout the game, his success rate wasn’t as high as it could’ve been but on the few occasions it came off it was very effective. 7

Antonee Robinson: He’s had a bit of stick this season but here he was excellent and fully merits praise. Solid at the back with good attacking intent and really starting to build a partnership with Kebano down the left hand side. His pace has been causing defences big issues the last few games and although the end product hasn’t always been there for him, he has opened up space to allow others, mainly Kebano, to capitalise. Today though he put in a super cross to assist Carvalho and then helped himself to a goal at the death and what a great finish it was. We thought we might only get five goals today but Robinson was on hand to ensure we got six once more. 8

Harrison Reed: Whilst he did his job well for the majority of the game a silly lunge could very well have resulted in a red card on another day and left us in a spot of bother with Seri missing for the next few matches. He was also the player who you’d expect to have been there to challenge Gardner before he scored Birmingham’s second goal but he’d been dragged out of position. It certainly wasn’t a poor performance but we know he’s capable of much better. 6

Tom Cairney: He’s been absolutely integral to our goal scoring form recently and last night he got in on the action himself as he coolly passed it into the net via the upright. His all round game was brilliant once more, what might seem like a lack of urgency at times is just an incredibly calm player waiting for the right moment to move the ball forward or into space, he does it so well and when on form his tempo can dictate the entire game. 8

Fabio Carvalho: He showed signs of getting back to his best on Saturday and now he’s right back on track. It was a joy to watch Fabio as it has been on many occasions this season. His strength, composure and skill on the ball is up there with the very best youngsters in the world. He drove the ball forward and got the crowd on their feet on a number of occasions, an unexpected but beautifully placed header put us 3-0 up and cruising before he set one of for Tom Cairney on the stroke of half time. His 2nd of the game drew parallels with his goal on the weekend, a lovely shift in weight showed him onto his right foot on the edge of the area before he placed it, once again, into the bottom right. I called it Messi-esque on the weekend and I’ll do the same again today. Man of the match for me and whilst I can’t see him staying I can only hope we get to watch him for the rest of the season. 9

Harry Wilson: A lively game out on the right wing for Wilson, his energy up and down the wing was evident throughout and it was his run fed through by Cairney which set up the first goal, a simple cross which would’ve provided Mitrovic a tap in had the defender not got to it first to divert it in for an own goal. 7

Neeskens Kebano: It was a quiet start for the Congolese winger but a great run from wide across the defender at the front post allowed him to latch onto Odoi’s low cross and dispatch his finish into the back of the net. From then on he was involved regularly down the left and played a part in Cairney’s goal as well as Carvalho’s first. 7

Aleksandar Mitrovic: We scored 6 goals and he had no goals or assists!? I never would have thought this was possible. Despite that, Mitrovic which integral to almost everything we did in our build up play. He held the ball up and battled well in a slightly deeper position at times, drawing in opposition players in numbers allowing us to capitalise on the space that created. Its a side to his game which has progressed significantly since Silva took over the reigns. 7

SUBSTITUTES

Bobby Decordova-Reid: He had some bright moments and after last season we know what he can do but a lack of game time seemed to let him down here, he had some great opportunities to be involved in promising attacking play but on three occasions it broke down with him. 5

Nathaniel Chalobah: He quietly got on with his job in the middle of the park, at this stage in the game there wasn’t a huge amount of work to be done but show off his passing range. 6

Josh Onomah: With just 10 minutes left when he came on there wasn’t a big chance to make an impact but he managed to create a few very nearly moments, I think Onomah always does a great job at carrying the ball forward and he did that yesterday at a time where we became a little lacklustre (probably understandable after netting 18 goals in less than three games by this point). 7

Dutch loan looms for Kongolo

Fulham defender Terence Kongolo is likely to finish the season in his homeland, with a number of Dutch clubs considering a loan move according to reports this afternoon.

Marco Silva has made it clear that Fulham are looking to give their injury-prone defender some game time by arranging a loan before the end of the January transfer window and the clearest interest appears to be coming from the Eredivisie. Reports in the Dutch press this afternoon say several Dutch sides are open to taking the 27 year-old on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Kongolo has made just two appearances since turning his loan move from Huddersfield Town, which was curtailed by a foot injury, into a permanent £4m transfer back in October 2020. The Dutch international has played four games for Fulham’s under 23 side but Fulham are now keen for him to prove his fitness with a consistent run of games. A move back home would appeal to Kongolo and his first club Feyenoord are thought to be at the top of the list of suitors.

O’Riley set for Celtic switch

The Athletic are reporting that former Fulham midfielder Matt O’Riley is set to join Celtic for a fee of around £1.5m.

The 21 year-old, who has scored seven goals and contributed six assists in 28 appearances for Milton Keynes this season, left Craven Cottage after turning down a new contract under Scott Parker last summer. Fulham are understood to be entitled to around half of any transfer fee, owing to a sell-on clause agreed between them and Milton Keynes as compensation for their part in O’Riley’s development.

The England youth international joined Fulham’s academy at the age of eight and was long considered one of the club’s brightest prospects. He starred when offered the opportunity to train with Fulham’s senior squad in the summer of 2017 and was handed a senior debut by Slavisa Jokanovic against Wycombe Wanderers in the League Cup. He scored two goals in 27 appearances for Fulham’s under 18 side, 11 in 57 games for the under 23s but managed just five first team appearances, being substituted by Parker having been brought off the bench for his league debut against Reading on New Year’s Day 2020.

Cairney urges Fulham to keep going

Fulham captain Tom Cairney feels another emphatic win will have sent a message to their Championship promotion rivals.

The Whites scored six again as they put Birmingham City to the sword at Craven Cottage last night and Cairney believes the significance of that victory, which puts Marco Silva’s side five points clear at the top of the table, can’t be understated. He told FFCTV after the final whistle last night:

“It has been a good run of consecutive games after quite a big break after Christmas and New Year with the games getting cancelled. It is important that we’ve done what we’ve done – we’ve scored a lot of goals. To win when you’re top of the league is very important. It’s been a while since we’ve done that.”

Cairney still seemed a bit astonished by the fact that Fulham had scored six for the third game in succession, but believes Silva’s footballing philosophy always gives them a chance of grabbing goals.

“No, you can’t expect it. It is a very difficult, difficult league. We’re very good going forward, we always create chances and at the minute we’re putting them away. It’s delightful to play in.”

He was disappointed that Fulham let in Ivan Sunjic’s strike right on half time and felt the home side might have taken their foot of the gas at times during the second period.

“It is really disappointing to concede that goal just before half time. We could have made it a lot more comfortable for ourselves going in at 4-0. The boy scored a wonder goal – it is what it is. The second half was a bit cagey and it was a little bit tiring. It was the third game in a week. We got over the line in decent style at the end.”

The playmaker, still getting back to match sharpness after ten months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury, was pleased to get on the scoresheet again himself.

“Yeah, it was nice. It was nice hitting the back of the net. It’s always nice scoring at the Cottage. It was a great feeling. One of six – that was alright!”

Cairney knows that Stoke City, who are just four points off the play-off places, will pose a very different challenge on Saturday.

“It’s not going to be easy. It is another quick turnaround. Stoke won their last game, they’re playing decent. They are having a decent season – but I think we’ll go to any ground and try and win the game.”

Fulham’s fantastic goal glut

Last night’s battering of Birmingham City produced another wave of ridiculous goalscoring numbers – which reflect Fulham’s renewed sense of adventure under Marco Silva. Here are just a few of the extraordinary stats:

  • Fulham have now scored 70 goals in 26 Championship matches this season. For reference, Slavisa Jokanovic’s 2017/2018 promotion winning team managed 79 in 46 regular season fixtures. Even when Jean Tigana’s side romped to the Division One title in 2000-01, they only scored 90 in 46 games.
  • Fulham are the first English second-tier side to score at least six goals in three consecutive league matches since Everton in February 1954.
  • It is the first time an English league side have scored six in three successive games since Chester City in December 1933.
  • They are the sixth side in English league history to score at least six three times in a row following in the footsteps of Small Heath (1893), Plymouth (1925), Everton (1954) and Chelsea (2010).
  • Fulham have scored nineteen goals in their last three matches. Barnsley have only scored sixteen all season.
  • Fulham’s run of three instances of scoring six or more goals in eight days is the quickest treble by any league side in across all English competitions – beating Arsenal’s effort of three in eleven days in November 1932.
  • It is the first time Fulham have scored at least six goals in three successive matches in the club’s history.
  • Fulham average a goal every fourteen minutes in 2022.
  • Fabio Carvalho has now scored seven goals this season. He is the second-highest goalscoring teenager in English league football – behind Swindon Town’s Tyreece Simpson, who is on eight.

Such a run of goalscoring will likely never be repeated – these are special times at Craven Cottage.

Carvalho ‘having fun’ with Fulham

Fabio Carvalho enthused about the ‘fun’ he is having playing in Marco Silva’s Fulham side after bagging a brace as the Whites thumped Birmingham City 6-2 tonight.

The teenage playmaker doesn’t appear to be distracted by tabloid talk about his future as he followed up a fine individual goal against Bristol City on Saturday with two more against the Blues – the first a fine header and his second a trademark finish from the edge of the area just when Lee Bowyer’s side had inched their way back into the contest. Carvalho told FFCTV after the final whistle that has been delighted with the way the team have responded to their enforced festive break:

“It’s been a great start to the year. I feel like we’re starting how we started the season – strong, with confidence. We’ve been playing with such great style, like going forward, getting goals as well as being tidy at the back. That’s what the manager has been trying to drill into us and that’s how we’ve been performing.”

Carvalho highlighted the fact that he feels Fulham are able to shift through the gears and score goals when the opposition are making it hard for them – as evidenced in an eight-minute spell before half-time tonight.

“I feel we have it in us. When the game’s not really going the way we want it to go – in terms of scoring goals – at any moment we can just turn it on and switch. That’s a great attribute to have.”

He was delighted to find the net with his head tonight from a fine Antonee Robinson cross.

“It was good. The cross was just perfect. I’ve been trying to work on my heading because it is not one of my greatest attributes. Today, I just went for it – and it went in the goal. Something I’ve been working on and it was my first header in a long time.”

The young playmaker also felt his second goal was the culmination of hard work on the training ground – and he admitted he was relishing playing in such an attacking Fulham side.

“It’s just something I’ve been trying to add to my game. Even when I drift out to the left, come inside and try and find that corner like I’ve been doing – so hopefully I’ve get more goals like that. It is fun. Getting involved, not just the goals but playmaking. I’m having fun. It’s helping having a front four contributing, putting in a shift and it helps to have Mitro – he’s scoring half our goals at the moment!”

Silva salutes Fulham’s ruthlessness

Marco Silva was delighted after Fulham stretched their lead at the top of the Championship to five points by hitting Birmingham for six at Craven Cottage tonight.

The Whites have now scored nineteen goals in their last three league outings having had to wait since December to resume their promotion push. The Fulham head coach told FFCTV that he was pleased by his side’s ruthlessness in front of goal:

“We are really happy with the score. More happy with the three points – it is always the main thing for us. It was a different game for us. Of course, we were the best team on the pitch, we deserved the three points. We were really clinical in some moments. We reacted well in some moments when the game was unbalanced. I have to congratulate our players – even if we didn’t play at our top level, we are capable of punishing our opponents.”

Silva feels that Fulham’s players have brought entirely into his attacking approach, which has delivered an incredible seventy goals in 26 games already this season.

“It’s amazing, it’s fantastic. It shows our desire, reflects our philosophy, our technical staff, myself as a manager, our club and our players. When you have an idea, you have to convince your players that this is the way to be successful. From the first day, they had an open mind and because of that we are doing very good things.”

He handed out praise for Aleksandar Mitrovic and Harry Wilson, even though the pair were not on the scoresheet as Fulham ran riot.

“It is not a surprise for me. Two players that didn’t score tonight: Mitro and Harry, it is possible they were the most important players in our front line. Mitro had a very good performance tonight, Harry Wilson the same. I’m really happy with the performance from Mitro – even if he didn’t score, I know the goals will come. I’m really pleased to see the performance of Mitro, how he was involved in all the moments of the game.”

Silva knows that a punishing schedule – forced on Fulham after three festive period postponements – means the Whites will face a test of both of their fitness and quality at Stoke City on Saturday.

“It will be tougher in the future because we are playing tonight and our next opponents have the whole week to rest. I felt sometimes tonight we weren’t in our best physical condition. We have to do our best and prepare our players in the best way that we can.”

Relentless Fulham batter Blues

Lee Bowyer was right to be worried. Fulham, fresh from rattling in thirteen goals in two matches last week, kept up their sensational rate of scoring by putting six past the Blues to stretch their lead at the top of the Championship table to five points.

The Blues were brave and dogged but once Marc Roberts put through his own net to give the Londoners the lead, it felt only a matter of time before the floodgates opened. The Whites scored three in eight minutes to give themselves a scarcely believable lead before half-time, with the only black mark being Ivan Sunjic’s superb curler that beat Marek Rodak right on the interval. Gary Gardner’s glorious low drive threatened to bring Birmingham back in it – but that only served to anger the hosts, who added late strikes from Fabio Carvalho and Antonee Robinson to underline their superiority.

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of another resounding victory was the fact that Fulham ran riot without Aleksandar Mitrovic’s name appearing on scoresheet. The Serbian’s presence certainly prompted Roberts to try and touch a low cross from Harry Wilson away from danger in the tenth minute. It only flew past the unfortunate former Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge – but on the whole the visiting defence dealt with Mitrovic as well as any else has during his sensational scoring season. But Marco Silva’s men are far from a one-man team: and they set about proving it after a tight half an hour where they only had a couple of blocked shots from Tom Cairney and Wilson to show for their dominance.

The crucial second arrived ten minutes before half time through a purposeful period of Fulham passing. Tosin Adarabioyo spread the ball out wide to Wilson and the Welsh winger fed the onrushing Odoi, whose low cross was clinically converted by Neeskens Kebano. Three minutes later and it was three. Robinson raced down the left and lifted a cross towards the near post where young Fabio Carvalho climbed majestically and glanced a deft header into the far corner.

Suddenly, it felt like Fulham could score at any moment. A mesmorising move comprising of patient passing saw Silva’s side add another that could have come from the Portuguese’ coaching manual. They kept the ball with a series of immaculate passes in the final third before Wilson wandered across the field and spread the play to Kebano in the inside left position. The Congolese winger darted inside and slid a low cut back towards the centre of the box. Carvalho slipped a shot pass into Tom Cairney, who lashed a lovely finish into the far corner.

Sunjic produced a peach of a response for Birmingham, with his curling effort from 20 yards carrying too much power for Rodak, and to their immense credit, Bowyer’s men were even more adventurous in the second half. After Etheridge had held a drive from Carvalho, Birmingham pushed men forward and Lukas Jutkiewicz tested Rodak after fashioning a chance for himself on the edge of the box with a clever turn. Harrison Reed was fortunate to receive only a booking after a late lunge at Gary Gardner and while Fulham took a breather, the visitors pressed higher up the field and got their rewards. When Gary Gardner produced an unerring low finish after Ornel Hernadez and Kristian Pedersen had pinched possession off Nathaniel Chalobah, their loud travelling supporters might have been dreaming of an unlikely comeback.

Those hopes were snuffed out almost immediately by Carvalho, who produced another fine finish to make it five. Two Fulham substitutes, Bobby Decordova-Reid and Chalobah were instrumental in the build up before the teenager cut inside and stroked home his second of the evening from just outside the box. Blues kept on playing – with an impressive cameo from young substitute Jordan James and Ryan Woods testing Rodak’s athleticism – but the hosts hit six for the second time in four days when Robinson rifled home Josh Onomah’s pass to put the gloss on another unforgettable evening at Craven Cottage.

FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Odoi, A. Robinson, Adarabioyo, Ream; Reed (Onomah 81), Cairney (Chalobah 69); Wilson, Kebano (Decordova-Reid 69), Carvalho; Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Gazzaniga, Tete, Mawson, Muniz.

BOOKED: Reed.

GOAL: Roberts (o.g. 10), Kebano (35), Carvalho (38, 75), Cairney (43), Robinson (90+3).

BIRMINGHAM CITY (3-5-2): Etheridge; Mengi, Roberts (Friend 64), Pedersen; Colin, Bela, Sunjic, Woods, Gardner; Jutkiewicz (Hogan 64), Hernandez (James 82). Subs (not used): Trueman, Masampu, Bellingham, Campbell.

BOOKED: Pedersen.

GOAL: Sunjic (45), Gardner (74).

REFEREE: Gavin Ward (Surrey).

ATTENDANCE: 16,491.

Liverpool line up £5m move for Carvalho

Liverpool are preparing a £5m bid for Fulham playmaker Fabio Carvalho, according to the Sun.

With the talented teenager’s Craven Cottage contract due to expire at the end of the season, the Premier League champions are about to test the Londoners’ resolve to keep hold of Carvalho by tabling a January offer. Liverpool are ready to make their move as West Ham are also considering try to tempt Carvalho to east London in January.

The Sun suggests that Jorge Mendes is assisting Carvalho’s brother in plotting the nineteen year-old’s next move. Marco Silva remains hopeful of persuading the England youth international, who scored in Saturday’s 6-2 thumping of Bristol City, to commit his future to the Cottagers – but Fulham are well aware that their academy graduate is attracting interest from right across Europe.

Liverpool signed Carvalho’s former Fulham team mate Harvey Elliott last summer in an acrimonious transfer – the fee for which was eventually decided through a protracted tribunal process.

Saints see off Fulham U23s

Fulham under 23’s run of ten league wins in a row came to an abrupt end at AFC Totton last night as Southampton beat Steve Wigley’s side 2-1.

Strikes from Dom Ballard and Kazeem Olaigbe secured a surprise win for a young Saints side, who enjoyed the better of the second period after Fulham’s probing passing had been prominent in the first 45 minutes. Ballard produced an impudent chip over the returning Luca Ashby-Hammond after beating Idris Odutayo to a through ball to give the home side the lead, and although substitute Jean-Pierre Tiehi equalised within five minutes, Olaigbe fired a fine finish into the top corner from Luke Pearce’s pass to seal victory with two minutes to play.

This was a disappointing result for Fulham, who have built up a massive lead at the top of the Second Division table following an outstanding run of form. They failed to capitalise on their dominance in the first period with Sylvester Jasper, back in the starting line-up after returning from his loan at Colchester, testing Ollie Wright with an early shot. Sonny Hilton spurned two good opportunities to give the visitors the lead, shooting just wide from the edge of the area midway through the first half way and then somehow shooting over from close range after great interplay with Ollie O’Neill.

Southampton were far more adventurous after the interval. Odutayo cleared off the line to deny Sonny Davis and Ashby-Hammond saved simply after an excellent individual run from Kamari Doyle. An enterprising run from Olaigbe saw the winger tee up Cam Bragg, whose effort was deflected wide. Ashby-Hammond was called into action again when he made a quick double save after Smith had been sent through on goal.

Fulham were largely threatening on the break at this point with Kieron Bowie being denied an opener by a brilliant Wright save and O’Neill almost surprising the Saints goalkeeper with a looping cross. But it was Southampton who took the lead with nineteen minutes left as Ballard lifted the ball over the advancing Ashby-Hammond after the Fulham defence were caught horribly square. The Londoners levelled almost immediately as Tiehi nodded in a Hilton corner, but Olaigbe snatched the win for Saints in the dying stages of a close contest.

SOUTHAMPTON B (4-2-3-1): Wright; Otseh-Taiwo, Payne, Hewlett, Chauke; Burnett (Davis 45), Turner (Bragg 52); Ballard, Doyle, Olaigbe; Smith (Pearce 79). Subs (not used): Mohamed, Tshaka.

GOALS: Ballard (71), Olaigbe (87).

FULHAM UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): L. Ashby-Hammond; D’Auria-Henry, Larkeche, C. Robinson, Odutayo; Pajaziti (Page 76), Dibley-Dias; Hilton, O’Neill, Jasper (Harris 60); Bowie (Tiehi 67). Subs (not used): Borto, Bowat.

BOOKED: Dibley-Dias, Harris.

GOAL: Tiehi (76).