Bobby Zamora's fine goalscoring form continued on Sunday when he slammed a late free-kick past Joe Hart to ensure all three point for the Whites.
The visitors were handed the lead somewhat fortuitously early on when Chris Baird headed past Mark Schwarzer. There was little in the way of goal scoring opportunities in the first-half – although Fulham were creating the better attacking situations. The equaliser came just before the hour mark when Damien Duff played a one-two with Zoltan Gera before hitting a left-footed shot past Hart. Bobby Zamora fired home a dramatic late free-kick from the edge of the area to give Fulham the win.
Following an uneventful opening few minutes, Birmingham took the lead in the most unusual of circumstances when Chris Baird, who was under little pressure, headed past Mark Schwarzer on three minutes after Lee Bowyer floated a cross to the back post. In an attempt to put the ball out for a corner, Fulham’s Northern Ireland international inadvertently powered the ball past Schwarzer.
Baird went some way to making amends moments later when he blocked a goal-bound effort from Keith Fahey eight yards out. The action immediately switched to the other end where Simon Davies showed exceptional skill to keep his eye on the ball as it dropped over his shoulder and volley a strong effort on goal, which was parried out by Hart.
The goal hardly seemed to change the run of play as Fulham pressed Birmingham, with Nicky Shorey, Damien Duff and Bobby Zamora seeing a lot of the ball in advanced positions.
There were loud penalty appeals from the Fulham faithful on 23 minutes when Brede Hangeland was apparently held down as he attempted to get his head to Simon Davies’ outswinging corner.
It was certainly a case of defences on top as the first-half progressed, with nether side really able to get in behind their opponents. Fulham’s defence and midfield were doing a fine job of restricting Birmingham’s possession to non-threatening areas. In attack, Fulham were able to get into crossing positions with encouraging ease, but unfortunately the final ball was lacking.
Fulham continued to enjoy great success from wide areas and a cross from Zoltan Gera on 37 minutes found Zamora at the back post, who could only put the ball wide on the stretch.
The first-half shots on goal stats told a telling story with Birmingham registering two shots on target to Fulham’s eight.
With both teams playing a similar style, the second-half got off to a slow start. Fulham struggled to get their passing game going - largely due to the well-organised pressuring from the visitors. Lee Bowyer in particular was playing a key role in disrupting the Whites’ passing play as source.
A vocal appeal for handball in the area was ignored by the referee on 56 minutes. Danny Murphy jinked his way past two players before his attempted chip in the area struck Scott Dann on the hand.
The Fulham crowd soon kicked into life and the players responded seconds later with an equaliser. Damien Duff continued his rich vein of form when he fired Fulham’s equaliser past Hart on 59 minutes. The Republic of Ireland winger collected the ball from Chris Baird and advanced deep into the Birmingham half, he exchanged passes with Gera on the edge of the area before skipping a couple of challenges and rifling a left footed shot in off the post.
A thunderous effort form James McFadden on 69 minutes produced a world-class save from Mark Schwarzer. The 25-yard effort from the former Everton man look destined to find the back of the net but Schwarzer trust out a hand and diverted the ball on to the bar. Aaron Hughes duly headed the rebound out of danger.
Birmingham were given fresh impetus following the chance and Fulham had to be at their best defensively as they weathered an intense spell of pressure. As the second-half went on, it became clear that Lee Bowyer’s primary objective was to stop Danny Murphy having time and space on the ball.
Simon Davies’ involvement ended on 82 minutes when he was replaced by Bjorn Helge Riise.
The winner came late on after Stephen Carr body-checked Zoltan Gera on the edge of the area on 89 minutes, handing Fulham a free-kick. Bobby Zamora stepped up and hammered an unstoppable effort past Joe Hart - sending the Craven Cottage crowd wild.
The referee played an additional four minutes of added time, but Fulham were able to hold out for another three points at the Cottage.