Two goals from Brazil striker Rodrigo Muniz saw Fulham beat Bournemouth 3-1 in the battle of two midtable sides at Craven Cottage.
Fulham made a dream start when Bobby Decordova-Reid took advantage of a slip in the box from Lewis Cook to fire his side ahead after just five minutes, before Muniz, whose performance was his best ever for the club according to boss Marco Silva, got in on the action.
The forward’s first goal was an opportunistic effort, stealing in ahead of a dawdling Neto to double the hosts’ lead nine minutes before half-time.
Despite Bournemouth defender Marcos Senesi cutting that advantage in half with a neatly taken strike five minutes into the second period, it was that man Muniz who restored the Cottagers’ two-goal cushion just minutes later as he put away Willian’s inviting cross to the far post.
Dominic Solanke had chances to bring his team back into the game, but for once the striker’s radar was off and as a result, Silva’s team moved above their opponents into 12th in the Premier League standings after two recent draws, while the Cherries slip to 13th as their win-less top-flight run continues.
Fulham: Leno (6), Castagne (6), Diop (7), Ream (7), Robinson (8), Palhinha (7), Cairney (7), De Cordova-Reid (7), Pereira (6), Willian (8),
Subs: Reed (6), Wilson (6), Broja (6), Traore (6), Ballo-Toure (6)
Bournemouth: Neto (6), Smith (6), Zabarnyi (6), Senesi (6), Kelly (6), Cook (6), Christie (6), Tavernier (7), Scott (6), Sinisterra (7),
Subs: Kerkez, Faivre, Ouattara, Semenyo, Unal
Man of the match: Rodrigo Muniz
How Fulham leapfrogged Cherries in the top-flight standings
With both teams looking to get back to winning ways after recent draws, it was the hosts who made the better start to proceedings in west London, striking early, albeit with a helping hand from Bournemouth.
There appeared little danger to the visitors when Muniz centered, only for Cook to stumble, although Decordova-Reid still had a lot of work to do to find the far corner of the net with an accurate low drive.
It was another defensive slip that saw the Cottagers double their lead on 36 minutes when again, there appeared little threat as Willian’s ball floated to the far post, with Reid heading the centre goalwards.
The home side made two alterations to the team that were held to a 2-2 draw at Burnley last time out, with Tom Cairney and Issa Diop starting in place of the benched Tosin Adarabioyo and Harrison Reed.
On-loan Chelsea striker Armando Broja, meanwhile, had to settle for a place on the sub’s bench.
The visitors also made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest on Sunday as both Alex Scott and Marcus Tavernier given the nod, with Justin Kluivert and Antoine Semenyo having to settle for a place on the bench.
However, forward Enes Unal, who joined the Cherries in January, was also a sub.
Neto looked the favourite to gather, only for the ever-alert Muniz to steal in to poke home his second league goal in a week as Fulham were cruising at the break.
However, Bournemouth responded at the start of the second half as Senesi showed the skills of a forward to turn and swivel in a tight space in the six-yard box after a corner to the far post was headed back his way by Solanke.
But if Cherries boss Andoni Iraola thought that was the start of the comeback, he was mistaken as the hosts hit back immediately with a neat move after the visitors lost possession to Tom Cairney.
The Fulham skipper powered forward before finding the evergreen Willian and the Brazil forward’s inviting, lofted centre was tucked away by Muniz at the far post as the home side moved above their opponents in the standings.
FPL stats: Fulham vs Bournemouth
|Muniz (2), De Cordova-Reid, De Cordova-Reid Senesi
|De Cordova-Reid, Muniz, Willian, Solanke
|Muniz (3), Senesi (2), De Cordova-Reid (1)
No place like home for the Cottagers – Opta stats
- Fulham have won five of their last seven home Premier League games (D1 L1), while their seven league wins at Craven Cottage this season is just one fewer than they managed in the entirety of 2022-23 (8).
- Bournemouth are winless in their last five Premier League games (D2 L3), having won six of their previous seven matches before this run (D1).
- Fulham’s Bobby De Cordova-Reid has scored more Premier League goals against Bournemouth than he has against any other side (3). Indeed, 10 of his last 11 goals in the competition have put the Cottagers one goal in the lead, including each of his last seven.
- Fulham’s Bobby De Cordova-Reid scored and assisted in a single Premier League game for just a second time, with the previous instance coming back in October 2018 for Cardiff vs his current club Fulham.
What the managers said…
Fulham boss Marco Silva:
“I’m really pleased for him [Muniz] and he really deserves it.
“When you have the chance, you have to step in and pop up and show your quality and it was the moment for Rodrigo to do it.
“The way he linked our game and played behind the pressure of the midfielders was really good.
“Not just him [Armando Broja], but everyone [has to be patient].
“He’s a player who is here to help us and I believe he will help us. It’s competition between strikers and I will decide what is best for us in each game.
“We believe Armando will help us in the next few months because he is a player with a profile which I think will help.”
Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola:
“I think we conceded too much at the beginning of the game, and that’s the main reason we didn’t get anything from today.
“I will say, after 2-0 I think the team did a lot of very good things. We arrived a lot [in their box], we created a lot of chances.
“We put them under pressure, but we conceded too much at the beginning.
“The first goal it happens – a player that slips in a dangerous position.
“But the second one we had the numbers to deal with the cross much better.
“I think we were late to react to the second balls, especially second goal.
“You can see that there are a couple of situations where they just arrive a little bit earlier, especially in this pitch where there’s not a lot of space in the middle.
“Both teams want to get on the ball, we have to be quicker to react to these things.
“The first goal is difficult to blame someone because it’s a slip, it’s so easy.
“But we have to start with more intensity.”
Muniz has given Silva a dilemma in attack
Analysis by Sky Sports’ Richard Morgan:
It is fair to say Rodrigo Muniz has taken his time to settle at Fulham following his arrival at the club from Flamengo in August 2021, but it looks the striker is now ready to take his chance in west London.
Having helped the Cottagers gain promotion back to the Premier League in his debut campaign with Marco Silva’s side, Muniz was then sent out on loan to Middlesbrough last season.
However, the Brazilian struggled in the north east, scoring just twice, and returned to the capital looking to re-establish himself as Fulham’s main marksman following Aleksandar Mitrovic’s departure to Al Hilal in August.
But with first-choice forward Raul Jimenez injured against Everton, Silva turned to Muniz rather than on-loan Chelsea striker Armando Broj – and the 22-year-old has not let his manager down, scoring his first Premier League goal for the club in last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Burnley, before grabbing two more in Saturday’s 3-1 home win over Bournemouth.
And after the game, Silva highlighted Muniz’s display, saying: “This afternoon was probably his best performance in a Fulham shirt and he deserves it because he’s worked really hard.
“He had a good preseason followed by a bad injury, but now he’s coming back and he’s fighting for what he wants and he’s showing the desire to play as the Fulham striker.”
All of which means the Portuguese will have a tricky choice to make in attack when Jimenez returns from injury, with the exciting Broja also on the bench against the Cherries.
But after this eye-catching performance up front, it would be a brave man not to continue with Muniz when Aston Villa visit the Cottage next Saturday.
Both Fulham and Bournemouth are back in Premier League action next Saturday with both matches kicking off at 3pm.
Fulham host Aston Villa on February 17, while Bournemouth will travel to Newcastle and face former Cherries manager Eddie Howe.
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