x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Hughes hails Zamora impact after striker downs Blackpool

Bobby Zamora fought off an illness to inspire his side to a 3-0 win over Blackpool.

Bobby Zamora, centre, had been unwell in the build-up the Blackpool match but recovered sufficiently to score two goals in a 3-0 win and propel Fulham into the top half of the Premier League table yesterday.
Bobby Zamora, centre, had been unwell in the build-up the Blackpool match but recovered sufficiently to score two goals in a 3-0 win and propel Fulham into the top half of the Premier League table yesterday.

LONDON // Mark Hughes, the Fulham manager, hailed the contribution of Bobby Zamora after the striker fought off illness to inspire his side to a 3-0 win over Blackpool.

Zamora had been a doubt in the build-up to the clash yesterday but made his mark with a first-half double. First, he smashed home a 23rd-minute opener after a wayward James Beattie pass for his first goal since August, also against Blackpool.

Then, five minutes later, he nodded in a Damien Duff free kick.

Dickson Etuhu wrapped up the points in the 72nd minute, tapping home from close range to secure Fulham's fifth home win in six matches.

Hughes praised the mindset of Zamora, who has missed more than five months of the season already with a broken leg.

"Bobby had been under the weather, he just had a head cold and had not been sleeping particularly well," he said. "He just wasn't quite as lively during the week as he normally is.

"Normally you hear Bobby before you see him, so he was a little bit quiet, but I thought this was the perfect game for him, to be honest.

"I thought that he got over the last hurdle in his head after the injury in terms of starting games and really, in fairness, I couldn't have hoped for a better impact from him. Straight from the off he showed qualities that we have missed and lacked for many games this season.

"For him to come in - the way he is thinking about his game and coming back from a serious injury - it was a perfect day for him."

The victory propels Fulham into the top half of the table, which Hughes said reinforced his view that the Londoners are a top-10 side.

"We've never wavered from that view and obviously tonight we're in that position," he said. "We're something like three points from seventh. It's possible we can really establish ourselves from now until the end of the season in that top half."

While Fulham's victory has ushered them away from relegation trouble, counterparts Blackpool continue to linger dangerously close to the precipice. They are now just one place and one point above the bottom three.

Ian Holloway, the manager, has promised to "crack the whip" when his side get back to Lancashire and does not want his players' heads to drop again during the vital the run-in.

"I've told them all to go away and watch how we got promoted last year and the goals we've scored this year and tell me we are a bad side," he said.

"I've asked them to do that because we need to remain totally positive. We can have probably five defeats and two victories and we'd still stay up, I believe. If we do that it'll be a fantastic achievement, better than last year."