Ranieri’s Fulham edge Southampton in thriller
- Fulham have lost just one of last 15 home league games v. Saints
- Saints without a win since Sept. 1
- Fulham without a shutout in their last 17 PL games, conceding at least twice in 15 of those
LONDON -- Claudio Ranieri’s first game in charge ended in victory as Fulham beat Southampton 3-2 at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
The Premier League’s bottom club before the start of play, Fulham went 1-0 down as Stuart Armstrong scored but they turned it around in the first half with goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle. Armstrong made it 2-2 in the second half with a fine goal but Mitrovic scored again as the Cottagers grabbed their first win since August.
With the victory Fulham now have eight points, the same as Southampton.
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The first big chance of the game fell to Southampton as Armstrong’s low drive was parried by Sergio Rico and Fulham’s goalkeeper then reacted superbly to deny Gabbiadini’s rebound.
Fulham went close from a corner but Calum Chambers’ header was saved down low by Alex McCarthy.
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Saints did get the lead their pressure deserved, as a cross into the box found Armstrong and his low drilled effort found its way past Rico and in.
But before the break Fulham drew level as Maxime Le Marchand kept the ball in down the left and cross for Mitrovic who nodded home. 1-1. Game on.
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Right on half time Fulham hit Southampton with a sucker punch as Ryan Sessegnon got free of his marker brilliantly, then sent a cross to the back post which Schurrle tapped home. 2-1, and Ranieri was working his magic.
The game turned into an end-to-end encounter in the second half as Mitrovic launched a counter and was denied by a superb low stop from Alex McCarthy, then Saints equalized.
Armstrong collected a back heel from Cedric and curled home a stunner to make it 2-2.
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Just when it looked like Saints would take control of the game Fulham went ahead again. A cross into the box from Cyrus Christie found Mitrovic and the Serbian volleyed home his second and Fulham’s third to make it 3-2.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg came close to drawing Saints level again but Rico pushed his powerful shot away, then Michael Obafemi twice went close as Fulham held on for a vital win.