Zamora stars to press England case
Fulham 2 Birmingham City 1
Monday 22 February 2010
Bobby Zamora was let down only by his sense of timing as he strengthened his case for a call-up into the England squad for next month's friendly with Egypt, producing his second match-winning strike in four days.
With Fabio Capello watching from the stands, Zamora will undoubtedly have caught the England coach's eye with an impressive all-round display as the focal point of his side's attack. Unfortunately for the forward he waited too long before serving up his finest moment, and Capello had already left Craven Cottage when Zamora curled a perfectly placed 89th-minute free kick beyond Joe Hart – another England hopeful – to secure a deserved victory for the home side.
Capello may still have been close enough to the ground to hear the chants of "Bobby for England" that followed Zamora's goal, an effort that matched his excellent first-time shot against Shakhtar Donetsk last Thursday, but the Italian will already have decided whether the forward can cut it at international level.
Should he need a second opinion however, Fulham manager Roy Hodgson provided a glowing reference for his player who completed the Cottagers' comeback after Chris Baird had contrived to hand Birmingham a third-minute lead with an own goal, a deficit that was cancelled out by Damien Duff's brilliant run and shot in the 59th minute. "I can't speak for him [Capello]," said Hodgson. "I know the fans were chanting Bob's name for England and that's quite right, that's how it should be.
"[Capello] knows football very well, he's a very good coach, a good manager, a person I regard as a friend. I've got every faith in his judgement and if he believes Bobby can do a job for him I am sure he'll take him.
"Capello can make that decision quite happily by himself, but I'm sure that today, good judge of a player that he is, he will have gone away realising that in Bobby Zamora Fulham have a good player." Hodgson added: "I don't know if he missed the goal, but we have wall-to-wall coverage."
Fulham will now travel to Donetsk on Thursday on the back of four successive wins, although their chances of maintaining that run were thrown into doubt when Baird inexplicably powered a header past Mark Schwarzer.
Birmingham stood firm until Duff ran from the halfway line, exchanged passes with Zoltan Gera and drilled a left-foot shot in off Hart's right-hand post. The visitors then had only themselves to blame for handing Zamora his chance, with Stephen Carr foolishly fouling Gera on the edge of the box.
"I don't think it would have been harsh on Fulham if we had got a draw," said Birmingham manager Alex McLeish.
Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Shorey; Duff, Etuhu, Murphy (Smalling, 90), Davies (Riise, 83); Gera; Zamora. Substitutes not used: Zuberbuhler (gk), Kelly, Okaka, Smalling, Greening, Elm.
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Hart; Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell; Larsson (Gardner, 68), Bowyer, Ferguson (Michel, 90), Fahey; McFadden, Jerome (Phillips, 77). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Benitez, Parnaby, Vignal.
Referee: P Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent).
Booked: Fulham Duff; Birmingham McFadden.
Man of the match: Zamora.
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