Fulham 2 Middlesbrough 1: Fulham ready for Christmas after McBride gifted winner

Chris Coleman has often had to improvise during his time in charge of Fulham, but perhaps never as much as he had to last night.

Despite missing nine players, those who filled in somehow contrived to pick up just their second win in seven games, and this sets Fulham up nicely for their Christmas schedule. The festive season sees Fulham play all three teams in the relegation zone. Win a couple of those and they will quickly climb away from where the danger lies.

As for sympathy, that was in short supply. "I can't feel sorry for Gareth Southgate," Coleman said of his friend and former Crystal Palace team-mate. But neutrals might feel something for the Middlesbrough manager, who has a team unable to win away this season and which is only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Southgate was not hiding from the perilous position his team is in, and if Coleman was lacking key players, so were Boro, who were without his primary pair of centre-halves, which showed when Fulham scored their second goal.

Yet for the opening period, the visitors were more threatening. The front pair of Mark Viduka and Yakubu Aiyegbeni buzzed around the penalty box and the wide men Stewart Downing and James Morrison swarmed all over their opposing full-backs. But then came the stroke of luck, after 12 minutes, that Coleman probably thought he deserved. On Fulham's first attack, Moritz Volz, a right-back pressed into central midfield, dribbled into the area. George Boateng chased him down and clipped his heels, accidentally it seemed, but the referee, Mike Dean, gave a penalty. Heidar Helguson coolly slipped his spot-kick to Mark Schwarzer's left.

The hosts doubled their lead 10 minutes before the interval, when Tomasz Radzinski found Brian McBride in yards of space between Boro's unprepared centre-backs. The American had all the time he wanted to curl his shot low into the bottom corner. Despite all the injuries, Coleman had still told his players this was a "must-win" game and against all odds they fulfilled their manager's wish.

In keeping with the game, though, Boro scored during a spell when they had looked at their least threatening. From a poor kick by Antii Niemi, Yakubu headed the ball perfectly into the path of Viduka, who took it on before chipping his shot over the goalkeeper. However, Boro's failure to threaten thereafter exposed a team low on self-belief.

Goals: Helguson (pen 12) 1-0; McBride (35) 2-0; Viduka (74) 2-1.

Fulham (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Christanval, Knight, Queudrue; Routledge, Volz, Brown, Radzinski (Bocanegra, 71); McBride, Helguson. Substitutes not used: Lastuvka (gk), Runstrom, Zakuani, N Jensen.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Parnaby, Riggott, Davies, Taylor; Morrison (Johnson, 73), Boateng, Arca (Cattermole, h-t), Downing; Viduka, Yakubu. Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Christie, Wheater.

Referee: M Dean (Merseyside).

Man of the match: Volz.

Attendance: 17,000.

Suggested Topics
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week