Fulham 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1: 'Little Aeroplane' makes flying start to leave Coleman purring

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The Independent Online

The "Little Aeroplane" - also known as Fulham's on-loan striker from Roma, Vincenzo Montella - had another satisfactory test flight on Saturday.

Three days after scoring twice in the FA Cup victory over Leicester City, the Italian took another opportunity to demonstrate his trademark wide-armed goal celebration by scoring the penalty that earned his side a share of the points in a match where they were reduced to 10 men for the best part of the second half.

Montella is still not fully recovered from the injury that checked his progress in Serie A, where he had a record of scoring in almost every other game. But Fulham's manager, Chris Coleman, is eager to see what the new arrival can do when he is 100 per cent fit.

"Vincenzo has been a great addition to the dressing room," Coleman said. "He's fitting in right away, and his class is there to see. What we've got to do now is get him as fit as we can as fast as we can."

Coleman revealed that Fulham had been watching Montella for some time, and had made an early move to sign him on loan when it became clear he was not getting a regular place in the starting line-up after Roma's new coach adopted a formation with just Francesco Totti up front.

"Vincenzo was getting frustrated," Coleman said. "We knew he had an injury, but he was the highest scorer there. He loved the idea of the Premiership, so we tried to get in early doors and speak to his representative. And that was it.

"We've got to wrap him up in cotton wool and feed him bits of games as he gets back to full fitness. Half an hour today will have done him a world of good, because he's not far off. But he's got a great attitude. After scoring two goals on Wednesday he could have had a rest on Thursday but he wanted to come in training. He has also got an interpreter in with him three days a week. He could have stayed in Rome and lived the high life, but he wanted to come and join us. We have been super-impressed with his attitude."

Montella's flourish six minutes from time - after a goalbound shot from Brian McBride had struck Michael Dawson on his upper arm - appeared to have earned an unlikely victory for a side reduced to 10 men following Heidar Helguson's 53rd-minute dismissal for a rash challenge on Tom Huddlestone.

But Tottenham, who had been buffeted all afternoon both by the wind and their fired-up hosts, drew level with two minutes left through Pascal Chimbonda. The right-back appeared offside when he turned up on the left to force home a Huddlestone free-kick, but his effort had been rendered legal by the fact that the ball had deflected to him off the head of the Fulham full-back Franck Queudrue.

It was an equaliser that Tottenham's Steed Malbranque, tediously booed throughout by a home crowd that resented him leaving Craven Cottage for White Hart Lane this season, will have relished more than most.

Goals: Montella 84 (pen) 1-0; Chimbonda (88) 1-1.

Fulham (4-4-2): Lastuvka; Rosenior, Pearce, Christanval, Queudrue; Volz (Dempsey, 81), Radzinski (Montella, 71), Brown, Bocanegro; McBride, Helguson. Substitutes not used: Warner, Knight, Omozusi.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Gardner, Lee; Ghaly (Lennon, 61), Tainio (Zokora, 27), Huddlestone, Malbranque; Berbatov, Defoe (Keane, 67). Substitutes not used: Cerny, Assou-Eketto.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Tottenham Malbranque, Defoe.

Sent off: Helguson (53).

Man of the match: Huddlestone

Attendance: 23,580.

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