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Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 16:54 UK

Fulham 3-1 Aston Villa

By Ian Hughes

Diomansy Kamara (right) flicks the ball in to put Fulham 3-1 up
Kamara (right) flicks the ball in to put Fulham 3-1 up

Fulham boosted their European hopes as they overcame Aston Villa.

The hosts opened the scoring when James Milner conceded a penalty for a push on Diomansy Kamara and the impressive Danny Murphy stroked in the spot-kick.

Ashley Young equalised when he rifled the ball into the top corner but he later hit the post from six yards.

Fulham regained the lead when Kamara arrowed in a diagonal shot and the striker made it 3-1 with a cheeky back-heel flick from a free-kick.

Kamara had been the only change to Fulham's line-up, replacing Bobby Zamora.

Hodgson does not rule out European spot

And his goals have moved his side closer to a place in Europe next season, as they aim to leapfrog West Ham and Manchester City to finish seventh in the Premier League.

Fulham had to overcome a bright opening from Villa, who have already booked their place in Europe but are eager to secure a top-five finish.

Gabriel Agbonlahor latched on to a header from John Carew but screwed his shot wide as the visitors created the first opening.

But Fulham responded well and Erik Nevland's diving header brought a save from Brad Freidel.

And shortly after, Fulham took the lead when Murphy coolly scored from the penalty spot.

Nevland hit a rising drive over the bar as Fulham tried to drive home their advantage but they were pegged back soon after.

Milner's cross went right across goal the back post, where an unmarked Young smashed the ball home.

It seemed the momentum was with Villa now as Milner and Young worked the flanks well but a spell of possession brought no chances.

And Fulham, through the passing and vision of Murphy, began to impose themselves on the game.


Murphy's superb ball played in Nevland, who was only denied a shot by an excellent recovering tackle by Curtis Davies.

From a corner Zoltan Gera's shot tested Friedel, who soon after did brilliantly to keep out Clint's Dempsey 25-yard drive.

Villa escaped after failing to clear a corner again when Kamara's shot was deflected just wide.

Yet the visitors almost went into the break in front after Agbonlahor ran virtually the length of the pitch before crossing and Young hit the post from close-range.

Only 27 seconds after the restart, Fulham regained the lead.

Dempsey over-ran the ball but it fell for Kamara and the striker finished clinically from the edge of the area.

This time Fulham did not let their advantage slip, and they pushed their opponents back with some crisp, quick passing.

Paul Konchesky made Friedel work when his free-kick went through the wall.

O'Neill keen to bolster Villa squad

But the American keeper was unable to stop Kamara's flick from making it 3-1 after Villa had once more failed to deal with a set-piece, this time a Murphy free-kick.

Villa immediately replaced Luke Young and Nicky Shorey with Emile Heskey and Nigel Reo-Coker but the changes brought no reward.

Fulham continued to control the game and substitute Zamora almost scored a fourth goal for his side but Friedel rushed out of his goal to clear.

It was a fine performance by Fulham, but Villa look weary and a long way from the side that started the season so well.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson:
"Diomansy Kamara was fantastic - he missed a lot of the year through injury but since coming back he has been very very good.

"He has had to wait for his chance but to was nice he took his chance with both hands today.

"He got us two goals and a penalty. He played with great discipline and was a constant thorn in Villa's side."

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:
"We created a number of chances in the first half and we played exceptionally well going forward.

"We conceded early in the second half, which was a blow to us but it should not have killed off our hopes.

"Fulham deserved to win. They played much better than us in the second half, which was a disappointment."

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Gera, Murphy, Etuhu (Dacourt 89), Dempsey (Gray 85), Kamara, Nevland (Zamora 83).
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Stoor, Baird, Smalling.

Booked: Murphy.

Goals: Murphy 6 pen, Kamara 46, 60.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young (Heskey 64), Knight, Davies, Shorey (Reo-Coker 64), Milner, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Carew, Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Sidwell, Delfouneso, Gardner, Clark.

Goals: Ashley Young 14.

Att: 25,660

Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match:
Fulham's Brede Hageland 7.75 (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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see also
Saturday's football as it happened
09 May 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
09 May 09 |  Football

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