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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 January, 2005, 17:00 GMT
Birmingham 1-2 Fulham
Papa Bouba Diop
Fulham's Papa Bouba Diop scored with a header to secure his side a hard-fought win against Birmingham in a scruffy game at St Andrews.

Moritz Volz scored an own goal to put the hosts ahead after Edwin van der Sar saved from Emile Heskey, whose knee had nudged the ball goalwards.

Andy Cole equalised from the penalty spot after Luis Boa Morte was felled by Damien Johnson.

And Diop rose above the Blues' defence to head the winner on 83 minutes.

Birmingham may feel the result was harsh, as it appeared Fulham were fortunate to be given the penalty which brought them back into the game.

There was no doubt about Johnson's foul, only whether contact was made inside or outside of the area.

But Andy Cole had twice gone close with shots which flashed past the post before then.

And Boa Morte had also had a previous penalty appeal turned down.

The Portuguese striker also fizzed a shot wide as Fulham created more chances than their opponents.

But neither side were potent in attack, in a game short on quality and ideas.

Salif Diao made his debut for Birmingham after signing from Liverpool on loan, but failed to make any real impact.

The game was crying out for someone to take it by the scruff of the neck, but with Robbie Savage departed, the hosts were lacking that kind of influence.

The opening goal was typical of the match as Heskey profited from his miscontrol and Volz suffered misfortune as the ball rebounded off him, via Van der Sar, and into the goal.

However, luck was on Fulham's side when they were awarded a penalty, despite Johnson's foul on Boa Morte being committed outside the area.

But it brought Fulham back into the match as Cole coolly converted.

And they made the most of it as Diop completed their comeback when he leapt highest to nod home Mark Pembridge's free kick for the winner.

The result means Fulham leapfrog Birmingham in the Premiership table.

But both sides remain perilously close to the relegation zone.

Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Melchiot, Clapham, Cunningham, Martin Taylor (Yorke 86), Johnson (Anderton 83), Diao, Carter, Gray, Morrison (Blake 69), Heskey.
Subs Not Used: Tebily, Vaesen.

Booked: Johnson.

Goals: Volz 51 og.

Fulham: Van der Sar, Volz, Bocanegra, Knight, Rehman, Clark, Diop, Pembridge, Radzinski, Cole (McBride 89), Boa Morte.
Subs Not Used: Legwinski, Crossley, John, Rosenior.

Booked: Boa Morte, Diop, Bocanegra.

Goals: Cole 78 pen, Diop 83.

Att: 28,512

Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Interview: Fulham boss Chris Coleman

Interview: Birmingham boss Steve Bruce

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