Aston Villa 1 Fulham 2 match report: Hugo Rodallega makes good on his promise to give Fulham lasting hope

Kieran Richardson gave Fulham the lead before a Grant Holt equaliser set-up substitute Rodallega to net the winner

Villa Park

Felix Magath admitted that Fulham’s chances of staying up would have been over if they had lost this match, after Hugo Rodallega fulfilled his pre-match promise to score if he was given the chance. Fulham take on Norwich at home next week with the chance to reduce the gap on the team just above them on the other side of the relegation dotted line to two points after they took advantage of Aston Villa’s wretched home form to record their first away win since Boxing Day.

Fulham’s manager was so gratified by this deserved victory, he gave in to his players’ request for two days off. “They deserved it,” the notoriously tough taskmaster said. “It was very important for us to win here after losing our last home game [to Everton]. I think this was our last chance for us to stay in the League.” Grant Holt had equalised Kieran Richardson’s spectacular opening goal only for Fulham to win the game when Rodallega, on as a half-time substitute, headed in Lewis Holtby’s cross four minutes from time. It was only Fulham’s second win in 14 games but sufficient to raise hopes they can repeat the feat of 2008 when Roy Hodgson led them to four wins in their final six games to survive from the same position they started in yesterday. Spookily, the remaining games are all on exactly the same dates as those at the end of 2007-08.

 

“For us to win in the last five minutes is a signal to everybody that we are back in the league,” Magath added. “Everyone at the game could see we want to stay in this League. We have to win our games now. It doesn’t matter which team will come. We need to win three of the last games at least to stay in the League. Today we are winning and this win will give us confidence.”

The first half was cautious as Villa, having lost Christian  Benteke for six months with a ruptured Achilles, Gabriel Agbonlahor to a virus, Fabian Delph to a slight Achilles injury and Karim El-Ahmadi to a thigh strain, looked content to play for the point that might have suited Fulham at any other stage of the season. But the shackles came off in a rip-roaring second half as Magath introduced Rodallega and Ashkan Dejagah and pushed Richardson forward on the left wing. Suddenly the game was open and end-to-end.

Leandro Bacuna, picking up Holt’s knockdown from Ron Vlaar’s long pass, ran in from wide right to force a good save from David Stockdale who then held high Andreas Weimann’s powerful shot from Holt’s pull-back.

But Fulham were infused with greater belief, and when Dejagah squared the ball from the right Richardson unleashed a cracking left-footed shot into the far top corner from the edge of the penalty area. Richardson was an integral part of West Bromwich Albion’s great escape round these parts in 2005 but then Rodallega scored Wigan Athletic’s status-saving goal up the road at Stoke City three years ago.

So after Holt equalised with his first Villa goal, finding freedom in the penalty area to head in Marc Albrighton’s corner with 20 minutes remaining, the matchwinner was a suitable hero.

Holtby had an effort cleared off the line by Matt Lowton after dribbling round Brad Guzan but with four minutes remaining came Rodallega’s first Premier League goal of the season, a moment that keeps Fulham’s hopes alive.

“He has shown in the training stations he is in a good shape,” Magath said. “I asked him today if he comes in will he be in good shape and he said yes and that he will score. The atmosphere from our fans, they supported us for 90 minutes, [was important] and you can imagine now how the players in the locker room are happy, happy. They forced me to give them two days off so I have. They deserved it after today.”

Line-ups:

Aston Villa (4-3-1-2): Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett (Tonev, 66); Albrighton (Bowery, 90), Westwood, Bertrand; Bacuna; Weimann, Holt.

Fulham (4-5-1): Stockdale; Heitinga, Hangeland, Amorebieta, Richardson; Holtby, Sidwell, Diarra, Riether, Kasami (Dejagah, h-t); Woodrow (Rodallega, h-t).

Referee: Michael Oliver

Man of the match: Rodallega (Fulham)

Match rating: 6/10

Suggested Topics
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower