Fulham head coach Marco Silva insists Tom Cairney’s comeback goal was reward for the midfielder’s efforts in battling back to fitness after a 10-month absence.
Cairney has been sidelined since last December with knee problems but took just 12 minutes to make his mark after coming on at the start of the second half to put the Cottagers on course for a 2-0 win over Cardiff.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was also on target as Fulham moved up to second, while Cardiff manager Mick McCarthy is under growing pressure after a seventh consecutive league defeat.
Silva said: “It was really important for Tom to come back with the goal, it was really important. And he deserves it after the last few months that have been so tough. It was important for him to get back.
“You can imagine how he was. It is easy to understand how he celebrated the goal, his feelings in that moment.
“He helped the team when we needed him. I felt the team needed a player with more calm, to move the ball differently and be creative.
“If he is not the happiest, he is one of the happiest players in our dressing room.”
Silva added: “We can take many positives from the game. We deserved the three points and the clean sheet is really important as well.”
Defeat means Cardiff are enduring their worst run of form since 1934 and McCarthy admits it is inevitable his position is under threat.
He said: “This leaves us on the back end of a really horrible run of results.
“And if football is true to its usual stuff, we know what happens. I can’t do anything about that.
“We’ve certainly had a much better performance, and I’ll be doing exactly the same for Middlesbrough unless I’m told different.
“I can’t do any more than I am doing, I can’t try any harder than I am doing.
“We are giving it everything we can and we will be back in tomorrow to watch the game.”
McCarthy insisted there were signs of progress.
He added: “It was a vast improvement as a performance. The players were happier, as I was. If we perform like that against other teams we will get results.
“I have no qualms with the players, in terms of the effort and the performance. But we should be better on the ball.
“I have no criticism of them at all in terms of performance. But you can keep saying that but you’ve got to stop losing games.
“I was asked at the weekend if I had lost the dressing room, which is ridiculous. Tonight shows that I certainly haven’t. But I feel pretty lousy because I don’t like getting beaten.”
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