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Knockaert fires Fulham up to third

Ben Grounds


Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash at Craven Cottage

Last Updated: 17/01/20 10:53pm

1:54 Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Middlesbrough

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Middlesbrough

Fulham moved to within four points of the automatic promotion places in the Sky Bet Championship after Anthony Knockaert's close-range finish secured a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough at Craven Cottage.

Knockaert met Joe Bryan's low ball after six minutes to nip in front of Hayden Coulson and convert his third league goal of the season as the hosts leapfrogged their west London rivals Brentford into third place.

Scott Parker's side spurned good opportunities to extend their lead in the first half with Josh Onomah, Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ivan Cavaleiro all guilty of wasteful finishing.

But Middlesbrough, who remain in 16th, were below par and failed to register a shot on target until the final five minutes as their recent revival was ended in the capital.

Anthony Knockaert tucks home the opener after just six minutes

Anthony Knockaert tucks home the opener after just six minutes

Fulham: Rodak (6), Bryan (7), Hector (8), Ream (7), Odoi (7), McDonald (6), Cairney (6), Knockaert (8), Onomah (7), Cavaleiro (7), Decordova-Reid (8).

Subs: Mawson (n/a), Arter (5), Johansen (6).

Middlesbrough: Pears (7), Spence, Howson, McNair, Fry, Coulson, Clayton, Saville, Tavernier, Roberts, Gestede.

Subs: Wing (5), Nmecha (5), Fletcher (5).

Man of the match: Anthony Knockaert.

How Fulham applied the pressure

Fulham were without their talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic due to an ankle injury, and the size of the task facing Parker's team was made all the more daunting by the form of the visitors.

No side had taken more points than Middlesbrough in the previous five games - a run that had seen them move closer to the top six than the bottom three - but Fulham swiftly converted their bright start into a lead.

The hosts, who were beaten at home by Reading on New Year's Day, showed an immediate reaction to that surprise setback in front of their own supporters. Bryan and Knockaert had already combined for an early shot over the bar, but the Middlesbrough defence had not learned their lesson.

Knockaert was unmarked to fire home his four goals in all competitions this term

Knockaert was unmarked to fire home his four goals in all competitions this term

Former Bristol City full-back Bryan showed why he has recently been linked with a move to the Premier League as his pinpoint low cross was gratefully tapped home by Knockaert, who had escaped Coulson.

Fulham were excellent in the opening period but lacked precision with their finishing as moments after Onomah had flashed a fierce drive wide from the edge of the penalty area, Cavaleiro combined brilliantly with Decordova-Reid but was unable to curl his shot on target.

Fulham made two alterations to the side that beat Hull 1-0 in their last outing as Cyrus Christie dropped to the bench while an ankle injury ruled out Aleksandar Mitrovic. Tom Cairney and Joe Bryan returned to the starting line-up.

Jonathan Woodgate stuck with nine of the players who started in the 2-2 draw with Derby the last time his side took to the field in the Sky Bet Championship. Lewis Wing and Ashley Fletcher dropped out as Adam Clayton and Rudy Gestede started.

The Middlesbrough defence was all at sea in the opening half an hour as Onomah wasted a glorious chance to head home unmarked from Knockaert's cross - but the visitors then came within inches of equaliser against the run of play.

Josh Onomah in action for Fulham in the first half on Friday night

Josh Onomah in action for Fulham in the first half on Friday night

Coulson nearly atoned for his role in Fulham's goal as his cross inadvertently deflected onto the crossbar, but without Ashley Fletcher leading the line, Woodgate's side lacked a focal point.

The Boro boss sought to inject greater urgency into his players after the restart as Lewis Wing replaced Marcus Tavernier, but it was Fulham who were dramatically denied a second with 17 minutes remaining by the linesman's flag.

Cavaleiro's wicked delivery was glanced beyond Aynsley Pears, but the Fulham defender had moved fractionally too early.

Marek Rodak shows his delight as Fulham sealed the points at Craven Cottage

Marek Rodak shows his delight as Fulham sealed the points at Craven Cottage

It was not until the 85th minute that the visitors registered a shot on target with Marek Rodak tipping Paddy McNair's free-kick over the bar as Fulham deservedly took the points.

Man of the match - Anthony Knockaert

Bobby Decordova-Reid and Michael Hector were both outstanding for Fulham, ensuring that Middlesbrough's hopes of a comeback were ended through their tireless running and discipline, but Knockaert was the standout performer.

In the absence of Mitrovic, Fulham were in need of a bit of magic, and the winger on loan from Brighton showcased his qualities, creating three good chances to go alongside his match-winning strike.

What the managers said...

4:25 Scott Parker admits the victory was fragile but is delighted to close the gap on Leeds and West Brom

Scott Parker admits the victory was fragile but is delighted to close the gap on Leeds and West Brom

Fulham boss Scott Parker: "It is always a little nervous at 1-0 but we limited them to very few chances. There's always that little bit of stress but I thought we were fantastic this evening.

"On another day, we could've gone in two or three goals up and that would've given the game a different picture."

1:37 Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate admits his players look tired after their recent run of games

Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate admits his players look tired after their recent run of games

Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate: "We've had three games in six days with a really young squad and we didn't really turn up in the first half. We were slow out of the traps and you can't start like that.

"We needed to get closer to them but we were better in the second half. Ashley Fletcher had been tired after the last two games so I needed to rest him. We've been on a fantastic run so I can't fault their attitude."

What's next?

Fulham travel to face Charlton on Wednesday; kick-off 7.45pm. Middlesbrough host Birmingham the previous night at the same kick-off time.

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Rangers 2-0 Stranraer: Hosts ease into Scottish Cup last 16

Jermain Defoe's penalty secured Rangers' progress to the last 16

Rangers began their Scottish Cup campaign with a routine victory over Stranraer at Ibrox to ease into the fifth round.

Scottish League One's bottom club held out until Scott Arfield poked home on the cusp of half-time.

Jermain Defoe doubled the lead from the spot as Rangers, showing seven changes from their Old Firm derby triumph, made a winning return from the winter break.

Steven Gerrard's side are the first club into Sunday's last-16 draw.

Stranraer, with former Scottish Premiership players Jamie Hamill and Ryan Stevenson in their side, defended bravely to keep the scoreline respectable but offered virtually nothing in attack.

Patterson sparkles on debut

After an impeccably observed minute's silence for former Rangers goalkeeper and Scotland manager Bobby Brown, who died this week aged 96, Stranraer set about trying to keep the hosts quiet.

It was a thankless and exhausting task that came with a cruel twist as League One's bottom club looked set to make it to half-time unscathed.

Rangers had an unfamiliar look as Gerrard fielded a host of fringe men. Few, though, will have convinced the manager they deserve more regular inclusion.

Jordan Jones, Andy Halliday and goalkeeper Wes Foderingham were making their first start in months, while right-back Nathan Patterson impressed on his debut.

The rangy 18-year-old, given the freedom of the flank as Stranraer packed the middle of the pitch, supplied a series of excellent deliveries. And he came close to marking his big night with a goal, his second-half snapshot bringing out the best in former Ibrox youth goalkeeper Max Currie.

Stranraer were hemmed in by a barrage of pressure as Rangers chipped away at their massed ranks. Defoe sent a couple of efforts whistling just past the post before the break, while Jones, Nikola Katic and Joe Aribo tried their luck with no success.

Ryan Jack almost prised open the stubborn visitors when he played a one-two with Defoe and saw his drive deflected on to the post by Currie.

When Stranraer were finally undone it was a scruffy opener from a corner that should have been a goal-kick for the visitors. Regardless, the set-piece was floated into the box, George Edmundson took a swing and a miss and Arfield pounced to fire home.

Currie clawed a Katic header away from the top corner to prevent further damage and pulled off eye-catching saves from Defoe's close-range blast and a Davis drive after the restart as Stranraer kept throwing their knackered bodies on the line.

The result was never really in doubt but Defoe made sure when his smart turn coaxed Adam Cummins into clipping the striker's heels.

Defoe tucked the penalty into the bottom left-hand corner for his 15th goal of the season and was substituted shortly after, with Gerrard keen not to over-exert the striker who will lead the line in Rangers' next two league games in place of suspended Alfredo Morelos.

Aribo threatened a third on a couple of occasions, and 17-year-old midfielder Kai Kennedy came off the bench for his Rangers debut, but the match petered out as Stranraer departed with heads held high.

Man of the match - Nathan Patterson

The 18-year-old is highly regarded at Ibrox and showed why with an assured debut. Comfortable and unfussy in possession, his eye for an accurate cross is a real asset.

With first-choice right-back James Tavernier sidelined for at least a couple of weeks, Patterson could have a bigger role to play in the upcoming games and will take confidence from his first taste of action.

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Match report: Arsenal U-23s 3-0 Leicester


We progressed to knockout stages of the Premier League International Cup, as goals from Robbie Burton, Folarin Balogun and James Olayinka secured a 3-0 win against Leicester City at Meadow Park.

We entered the match knowing a point would be enough after recording wins against Villarreal and Dinamo Zagreb in our opening two matches.  

The first chance of the evening fell to the visitors as Bartosz Kapustka controlled well inside the box, but dragged his low effort wide.

Karl Hein was called into action shortly after when Zech Medley uncharacteristically gifted possession to Ali Reghba, who drove into the box and shifted the ball to Callum Wright, whose tame effort was saved by our keeper.

We were awarded a penalty inside 25 minutes when Nathan Tormey was brought down by Tobias Johansson after he had reacted quickly to receive Balogun’s rebounded strike, and Burton made no mistake from the spot.

Balogun had a great chance to double our advantage early in the second half when Tormey delivered a great ball into the box but our striker’s header from close range was deflected wide.

Moments later, Balogun did get the better of Johansson when he collected the ball on the edge of the box and took a touch, before hitting a powerful effort past the Foxes keeper from long range.

Hein produced another great save when he got down low to divert Wright’s effort from close range away with his feet.

Olayinka then wrapped up the points when he received the ball on the edge of the box, drove into the area and slotted calmly into the bottom corner.


We progress into the knockout stages of the competition as winners of Group A and join, Wolfsburg, West Ham, Benfica, Newcastle, Swansea, Porto, Derby and Monaco in doing so. 

The remaining teams in the next phase of the competition are yet to be decided and the draw will take place in late January. 


We return to Premier League 2 action on Sunday, February 2 as we face Liverpool away from home.

By Sam Cox

Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.

Arsene Wenger
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Derby County: Club claim EFL’s charge over breach of spending rules ‘unlawful’

Derby have been in the Championship continuously since relegation from the Premier League in 2008.

Derby County say the English Football League's decision to charge them with a breach of spending rules is 'unlawful'.

The club were charged by the EFL on Thursday in relation to losses made in the three years up to June of 2018 and face a possible points deduction.

The losses were recorded despite the club posting a pre-tax profit of £14.6m in 2017-18 after Pride Park was sold to Rams owner Mel Morris for £80m.

A Derby statement