Zamora curls Cottagers to victory

BY foxsports • February 21, 2010

Watching England boss Fabio Capello had left Craven Cottage before Zamora struck a magnificent free-kick in the 90th minute to claim his 15th goal in 32 starts, provoking chants of "Bobby for England" - but the Italian will have been impressed by his display. Momentum has gathered behind calls for Zamora to be selected by England and Sunday's strike will have improved his chances. The Blues raced ahead in the third minute thanks to an inexplicable own goal from Chris Baird who, despite being under little pressure, headed home a Lee Bowyer cross. It was a terrible blunder that will surely cause some sleepless nights but it was also harsh on Baird, who otherwise performed well despite being played out of position at right-back. Fulham controlled much of the match but had to wait until the hour mark for their equaliser when Damien Duff powered home his ninth goal of the season. Riled by two clumsy tackles moments earlier, the Republic of Ireland winger took revenge by dashing infield, combining with Zoltan Gera before driving home from the edge of the area. With both clubs imbedded in mid-table and closing in on the critical 40-point mark, Sunday's contest was about little more than having a say in who would get there first. It looked like Birmingham would have that honour when Baird handed them the lead in the third minute with an embarrassing own goal. Bowyer sent in a cross to the far post where Baird directed an unstoppable header past Schwarzer into his own net. The Northern Ireland defender tried making amends by setting up a good chance for Simon Davies only for keeper Joe Hart to come to Birmingham's rescue. Gera almost connected with a hanging cross from Duff and was then blocked by Stephen Carr as Fulham pressed for an equaliser. Danny Murphy expertly weaved his way into the area but was brought to an abrupt stop by Scott Dann and shortly after Davies nodded a superb cross from Gera straight at Hart. Birmingham were content to hit Fulham on the counter, a tactic that was yielding some success. Sebastian Larsson had a shot blocked by Dickson Etuhu but more action was taking place at the other end with Zamora hurling himself at two crosses. Davies failed to connect cleanly with a clever pass from Murphy, giving Hart time to react. Zamora was applauded for a dazzling piece of skill that saw him expertly control the ball, which he then slipped between his legs before pirouetting away from Bowyer. The former West Ham marksman fired a well-struck shot from long range but it just lacked the power to really trouble Hart. Cameron Jerome scuffed a half-chance straight to Schwarzer and in the 57th minute Birmingham were lucky to escape a penalty after Dann clearly handled the ball. But the equaliser eventually arrived in the 60th minute with Duff driving home a brilliant goal that came just moments after he had been hacked down twice by clumsy challenges. He weaved his way infield and linked with Gera before taking the return pass and pulling the trigger on a shot that struck the left post and cannoned in. Only the fingertips of Schwarzer prevented Birmingham from retaking the lead as the Fulham keeper tipped a blistering shot from James McFadden onto the underside of the crossbar with the ball then bouncing down and out. The game was growing increasingly ragged with Zamora breaking free but taking the wrong option - before completing a dramatic finale. Gera was felled by an outrageous bodycheck from Carr and Zamora thumped home the free-kick in the 90th minute to clinch victory.

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