Boa Morte revels in role as hate figure

Birmingham City 1 Fulham 2
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The Independent Online

Birmingham City fans are cultivating a "Heroes and Villains" theme to rival the fanzine of similar name across their city. It is nothing to do with printed matter - just the ritual love and loathing of players.

Birmingham City fans are cultivating a "Heroes and Villains" theme to rival the fanzine of similar name across their city. It is nothing to do with printed matter - just the ritual love and loathing of players.

On the day the post-Robbie Savage era began with City's fourth consecutive Premiership defeat, along came Luis Boa Morte to deflect the vitriol.

The abrasive Portuguese forward did not score but, alongside Lee Clark, was the spark to a late fightback that deservedly sent Fulham above their hosts in the table. Boa Morte was refused one penalty - and booked - when grounded following Maik Taylor's dive at his feet. But he won a later award, on which Andy Cole capitalised with a 78th-minute equaliser, though Damien Johnson's barge was outside the area.

There was more. Boa Morte, loudly booed for his animated reaction to a tussle with Mario Melchiot, appeared to foul the home side's debutant, Salif Diao, before earning the penalty and was clattered by Johnson to set up a Mark Pembridge free-kick that Pape Bouba Diop headed in.

Little wonder Steve Bruce appeared in dark mood in his post-match press conference. The Birmingham manager had not mentioned Savage in his programme notes but might find supporters slower to move on if this performance is anything to go by. His captain, Kenny Cunningham, denied that Savage's departure "has left a hangover". "The conversation has not been about him. It has been about arresting the small slide we're in," he said.

Even when Birmingham took the lead it was from a lucky deflection off Moritz Volz after Emile Heskey had brought Edwin van der Sar's only save of the day.

Revenge for last month's defeat by City at Craven Cottage satisfied Chris Coleman whose side are unbeaten in six matches. "It's a scary League if you lose three on the bounce, and we were right in the mire," the Fulham manager said. "Now we're on a great run. It's all about confidence."

Goals: Volz og (51) 1-0; Cole pen (78) 1-1; Diop (83) 1-2.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham, Martin Taylor (Yorke, 86), Clapham; Johnson (Anderton, 82), Diao, Carter, Gray; Morrison (Blake, 69), Heskey. Substitutes not used: Vaesen (gk), Tébily.

Fulham (4-5-1): Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Rehman, Bocanegra; Radzinski, Diop, Clark, Pembridge, Boa Morte; Cole (McBride, 88). Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Legwinski, John, Rosenior.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Birmingham City Johnson; Fulham Bocanegra, Boa Morte, Diop.

Man of the match: Boa Morte.

Attendance: 28,512.

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