Fulham 6 Birmingham 2: Leaders’ relentless run continues as they tot up 19 goals in three matches

Birmingham were battered 6-2 and yet still came away feeling like they’d got off lightly.

For the third time in seven days, Fulham were in that ruthless kind of mood where any number of goals seemed possible.

After seven at Reading, six against Bristol City, and six again here. Of course, that was more than adequate to take them five points clear at the top of the Championship. 

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Fabio Carvalho (R) and Antonee Robinson (L) were both on target in the 6-2 hammering

Birmingham were the latest victims of Fulham’s relentless goalscoring streak

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After a Marc Roberts own goal set them on their way, strikes from Neeskens Kebano, Fabio Carvalho and Tom Cairney settled it before half-time. Carvalho scored a late fifth after Birmingham had replied twice before Antonee Robinson rounded it off.

So that’s the 19 goals in 270 minutes of football. All in all, that can be classed as a satisfactory week for Marco Silva and his team.

After a sticky patch in December, Fulham have roared back to their best and have again pulled clear of Bournemouth and Blackburn at the top. Continue in this rich vein and they’ll be strolling back to the big time.

As subsequent events would reiterate, Fulham are more than capable of scoring goals without being given a helping hand.

Seven nights ago at Reading they were gifted the first of seven goals by a dreadful backpass by Josh Laurent. This time, Birmingham offered up an own goal, albeit an unlucky one.

Just 10 minutes had elapsed and the visitors had looked genuinely threatening but when Cairney played a pass that deflected off Carvalho and into the path of Harry Wilson, Birmingham were in all kinds of trouble.

Wilson’s low cross would surely have been turned in by the prowling Aleksandar Mitrovic but Roberts applied the finish for him as he slid in at the near post to try and intercept the cross.

Neeskens Kebano stole in behind to slam his shot high into the net and score Fulham’s second

The early goal gave Fulham a good amount of control but we had the absurd situation of them reaching the half hour without actually having a shot of their own.

That was soon rectified as they rattled in three goals in an eight minute spell that Birmingham will have nightmares about for many months to come.

The second was similar to the first. Tosin Adarabioyo found Wilson with a ball from the back and the underlapping run of Denis Odoi was picked out.

His cross was firm and low, perfect for Kebano to steal in behind and slam his shot high into the net.

Two became three in what seemed like a heartbeat as the dam burst. The build-up this time was on the left side, with Kebano waiting patiently for Robinson’s overlap before setting him free. 

Antonee Robinson celebrates putting the icing on the cake with the last kick of the game

MATCH FACTS

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Odoi, Ream, Adarabioyo, Robinson; Cairney (c) (Chalobah 69), Reed (Onomah 81); Wilson, Carvalho, Kebano (De Cordova Reid 68); Mitrovic

Substitutes not used: Gazzaniga (GK); Tete, Muniz, Mawson

Manager: Marco Silva

Scorers: Roberts own goal 10; Kebano 35; Carvalho 38, 75; Cairney 43; Robinson 90+2

Booked: Reed

Birmingham City (3-5-2): Etheridge; Mengi, Roberts (Friend 64), Pedersen; Colin, Gardner, Sunjic, Woods, Bela; Hernandez (James 82), Jutkiewicz (c) (Hogan 64)

Substitutes not used: Trueman (GK); Bellingham, Masampu, Campbell

Manager: Lee Bowyer

Scorers: Sunjic 45; Gardner 74

Booked: Pedersen

Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey)

Attendance: 16,491

 

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Robinson’s cross was met with the most accomplished glancing header by Carvalho, certainly not bad for a 19-year-old and another indicator of why he’s rated so highly at Craven Cottage and beyond.

Chants of ‘we want seven’ echoed around the wooden seats of the Johnny Haynes Stand. The players seemed to take up the challenge and almost did it.

The fourth came a couple of minutes before half-time with Fulham simply toying with the Birmingham defence. They worked the ball from the left to the right and back again.

Wilson drove across the edge of the box looking for a shooting angle, gave up and passed to Kebano. He moved it on to Cairney who swept a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Irony of ironies, the best goal of the first-half came from Birmingham. In stoppage time, Ivan Sunjic collected a pass infield from Jeremie Bela on the left, looked up and curled home an immaculate shot off the post.

‘We’re gonna win five-four,’ sang the away section, not afraid of some gallows humour.

So Fulham walked in for half-time having scored 17 goals in 225 minutes of football, more than bottom-placed Barnsley have managed all season.

Birmingham battened down the hatches for the second-half and things calmed. Fulham seemed content with their lot for a good while.

Carvalho couldn’t generate enough power to beat Neil Etheridge after Wilson flicked the ball to him just outside the box.

Fulham fans chanted ‘we want seven’ and the players seemed to take up the challenge

So could the visitors make the contest a bit more interesting? Yes, actually. With 17 minutes left, Gardner drilled in Birmingham’s second from Kristian Pedersen’s pass.

That was the footballing equivalent of prodding a hornet’s nest. Fulham instantly broke forward and Carvalho took a pass from Bobby De Cordova Reid before picking out the bottom corner.

The icing on the cake came when Robinson fired home left-footed with pretty much the last kick of the game.

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