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Marco Silva happy as Fulham do it the hard way for once

Stoke City v Fulham – Sky Bet Championship – bet365 Stadium
(Image credit: Ian Hodgson)

Marco Silva was delighted with his Fulham side’s character after the Championship table-toppers came from behind to win 3-2 at Stoke.

The Cottagers suffered an early setback when D’Margio Wright-Phillips – son of Shaun and grandson of Ian Wright – scored his first senior goal in the first minute.

However, the home side’s celebrations were cut short a matter of seconds later when Rodrigo Muniz – filling in for absent talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic – emphatically equalised straight from kick-off.

Fabio Carvalho put Fulham ahead – with Muniz claiming in vain to have got the final touch – and though Lewis Baker marked his first start since joining Stoke from Chelsea with a long-range strike, Bobby Decordova-Reid rifled into an empty net late on to secure all three points.

Silva said: “It’s another important win for us. It was tough to play here, we knew we were playing against a lot of quality. They showed their quality, but our players showed big character and big personality.

“When you are in this competition you have to do it week in, week out. Our strengths come from the collective, not just one or two players.

“We were without two key players and maybe people were waiting for us not to answer in the right way, but we have fantastic players and we showed we are a collective so I’m really pleased.

“We didn’t start the game the way we must do, but we showed we are a really good group with the way we responded. They equalised and started to have good moments. At 2-2, they believed more and the crowd was behind them, but we showed that character.

“When you make this type of statement, when everyone expects goals, we as a collective have been fantastic. I want all of them ready now.”

Despite taking the lead inside the opening minute through Wright-Phillips’ accomplished volley, the Potters struggled to take advantage of their early ascendancy against opponents who arrived in the Midlands on the back of 19 goals in three games.

Looking for a first home league win since November, the influential Baker buoyed a vocal Stoke support with his accurate effort but Fulham snatched a late winner to open an eight-point lead at the summit of the table.

Frustrated Stoke boss Michael O’Neill said: “I thought we were the better team in the first half. We had a brilliant start and they reacted equally as brilliantly, but towards the end of the first half and the second half, we were the better team.

“I did feel that there were a lot of inconsistencies throughout the game from the referee. It was such a good game which both teams contributed so much to, we want the ball in play as much as possible and the officials have a responsibility to help that.

“We’ve said to the players what we feel we need to finish in a top-six position, and if they play as we did today then I would expect to win more games than we’ll lose in the last 20 games.

“We’ve got to get a good reaction now; we feel a little bit hard done by but we’ve got to put it behind us.”

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