Mark Hughes took his opportunity to haunt former club Manchester City, with a fine second half comeback earning Fulham a deserved draw which extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to seven matches.
Hughes' disappointment after the match spoke volumes; more than the handshake with Mancini. Fulham threatened Hart's goal as much as City did Schwarzer's, while they were the more comfortable in midfield, courtesy of Danny Murphy, who's enjoying such a long Indian summer in football that he must soon be at risk of catching sun stroke.
Like Everton, Fulham have been frustrated by a lack of goals and their failure to take advantage of decent build-up play; thanks in large part to Zamora and Dembele's injury blighted seasons. On Sunday though, the news looked more positive, as indeed did the starting eleven as Hughes picked the dangerous attacking quartet of Dembele, Johnson, Dempsey and Duff, straight from the start. With Zamora’s return to the starting eleven imminent, Fulham should now be targeting a top half finish, rather than just the obligatory avoidance of relegation.
Their draw lifted them to 13th, though now just five points ahead of bottom of the league Wigan Athletic, in a Premier League where a bad run for any of the bottom half teams could see them slip into the clutches of relegation.
I can’t see that happening to Fulham though, with their defence in the second half of the season as good as anything around; just 5 goals conceded in 9 games. Hangeland and Hughes stood up to the threat of three proven Manchester City goal scorers, while even Mario Balotelli's goal shouldn’t cause Hughes too many defensive headaches; while Murphy could have closed down the shot better, it was just a moment of inspired quality from Balotelli.
Fulham's team balance looks now spot on, despite Etuhu struggling for form. The solid defence are finally being supported by a number of attacking threats on the field; able to attack without leaving themselves short at the back.
Clean sheets and goals remain the perfect football formula and currently Hughes has hit upon it.