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Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Sunday, 11 May 2008 16:56 UK

Portsmouth 0-1 Fulham

By Ian Hughes

Danny Murphy and Jimmy Bullard
Murphy (left) has written himself into Fulham's history

Danny Murphy's 76th-minute header proved enough to secure Fulham's Premier League status as they beat Portsmouth, despite a nervy display.

Fulham were heading for relegation, with rivals Reading and Birmingham winning, until Murphy's strike.

The Cottagers created little else in the match but when Murphy rose to power in Jimmy Bullard's free-kick, their travelling fans celebrated wildly.

Fulham had never before won three Premier League away matches in a row.

And for long spells it had seemed to be an impossible mission.

Interview: Fulham boss Roy Hodgson

Fulham started the day knowing that their future was in their own hands - a win would see them escape relegation regardless of what Reading and Birmingham did in their matches, barring Reading scoring an improbable number of goals against Derby.

It should have seen them play with drive, determination and desire but instead they seemed paralysed by nerves.

They were faced by Portsmouth players who had two incentives - to arrest a run of three consecutive defeats and to stake their claim for a starting place in the FA Cup final line-up.

But the hosts appeared unwilling to break a sweat, which should have played into Fulham's hands, yet they could find no rhythm or penetration.

Bullard attempted to spray the ball around, but with little movement from his team-mates it was not proving easy.


In the Portsmouth midfield Pedro Mendes - making his return to the starting line-up - was struggling to assert himself, despite being informed he was playing for a Wembley spot.

Simon Davies' early shot was the only effort on goal that Fulham managed in the first half, even though they must have realised results elsewhere were not going their way.

At that point the relegation rivals were winning their matches and the Cottagers were staring the Championship in the face.

And it might have been worse for them had Kanu been up with play to turn in a John Utaka cross mid-way through the first half, or if Jermain Defoe had kept his stabbed shot under the bar after being played in by Glen Johnson.

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp

Soon after the break, Fulham got their second sight of goal but Murphy's header was comfortably saved.

But the visitors knew that if they continued to defend well they had a lifeline.

However, their toothless attack was a cause for concern.

And as Fulham continued to look jittery, Bullard tried a speculative long-range shot which left boss Roy Hodgson clearly displeased by his player's decision and the execution.

As the visitors tried to build up momentum there was a passage of head tennis after a corner but Pompey managed to clear.

Interview: Fulham midfielder Danny Murphy

Another set of corners saw Portsmouth scrambling to get the ball away, but again Fulham could not break through.

And then it came. A free-kick from the right was superbly delivered by Bullard and an unmarked Murphy nodded the ball into the corner.

It sparked scenes of jubilation in the stands, although Hodgson looked unmoved.

The Fulham boss must have been concerned about the 14 minutes his side needed to hold on.

But he need not have worried as his side kept Pompey out, and kept themselves in the top flight with an historic victory - and their first at Fratton Park.

Portsmouth: Ashdown, Johnson, Distin, Pamarot, Hreidarsson, Utaka, Diarra (Muntari 83), Pedro Mendes (Davis 73), Kranjcar, Defoe, Kanu (Baros 73).
Subs Not Used: Begovic, Wilson.

Fulham: Keller, Stalteri, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy, Bullard, Dempsey (Nevland 72), Kamara (Andreasen 85), McBride.
Subs Not Used: Warner, Bocanegra, Healy.

Goals: Murphy 76.

Att: 20,532

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Portsmouth's Niko Kranjcar 8.80 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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