Roy Hodgson had predicted that Bobby Zamora's first Premier League goal in 1,763 minutes, scored in Sunday's triumph over West Bromwich Albion, would provide the confidence for the forward to bag many more. And so it proved last night as the 28-year-old broke Swansea City's hearts with a late winning header at Craven Cottage to end a scintillating FA Cup fifth-round replay.
Zamora, a summer signing from West Ham, earned more praise from his manager last night. "He could have had four or five," said Hodgson, whose side have still only lost one game at home all season.
"A number of times he was within a millimetre of reaching the ball, the goalkeeper made three good saves and he scored a very good goal. I thought his performance was quite outstanding. His target play, his linking-up with other players is just what we hoped we would get from him."
Hodgson had witnessed his side's 2-0 defeat of West Bromwich only 52 hours before kick-off and one could understand his complaints to the Football Association about his players being fatigued.
Jason Scotland and Jordi Gomez came close early on for the visitors but found Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in inspired form, in particular in the 28th minute when the Spaniard's low-struck free-kick deflected off the bottom of the wall and hit the former Middlesbrough stopper's trailing leg.
That close call seemed to shake Fulham from their torpor as they had the better of the remainder of the half. Colossal central defender Brede Hangeland came closest to breaking the deadlock five minutes before the interval. But his thumping header from a Simon Davies corner only found the Swansea crossbar.
However, it was the visitors who drew first blood through Scotland. The 30-year-old striker was found by Mark Gower just inside the Fulham box and, with too much space for Hodgson's liking, he toe-poked his effort to the left of Schwarzer's groping hand – it was his 14th goal in 15 games. The home side began to pepper Dorus de Vries's goal and their persistence finally paid off when American Clint Dempsey nodded in Davies's corner in the 76th minute. Zamora competed the scoring three minutes later and earned his side their first FA Cup quarter-final in five years. They host world champions Manchester United in the last eight.
"United will be the favourites," grinned Hodgson, "but they will have their distractions, too. Why can't we win? I was surprised at the players' energy level tonight – they were incredible. I can't praise the team enough."
Losing manager Roberto Martinez added: "I have a bit of the same feeling we had after the first match. I was extremely proud of our players, of their approach to the game and there was a good arrogance about our play. But we're disappointed because we didn't have that bit of luck you need in the cup. Perhaps we scored a little bit early because what we're good at is keeping the ball, holding possession and after we scored we weren't able to do that."
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Paintsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Davies, Dacourt (Murphy, 59), Etuhu, Dempsey (Kamara, 89); Nevland (Gera, 60), Zamora. Substitutes not used: Zuberbuhler, Milsom, Kallio, Baird.
Swansea (4-4-2): De Vries; Rangel, Williams, Serran, Tate; Dyer, Gower (Tudur-Jones, 55), Britton, Gower; Scotland, Bauza. Substitutes not used: Cornell, O'Leary, Orlandi, Bessone, Collins, Butler.
Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).Reuse content