Fulham came from two goals behind to secure a vital 4-2 victory against Brighton on Tuesday evening at Craven Cottage.
Brighton got off to the best possible start, with Glenn Murray getting on the score sheet for the ninth time this season. Martin Montoya drove down the right flank and delivered a wicked cross into the direction of Murray and the veteran striker duly directed the ball beyond Sergio Rico.
Murray then doubled his and Brighton's tally on the 15 minute mark. After some pinball in the Fulham box, Davy Propper hooked the ball over his head in acrobatic style and Murray was on hand to prod home from close range.
The second-half began with a bang, courtesy of an unlikely source. Calum Chambers scored a stunning goal for Fulham with a superb half-volley from outside the box, leaving Mat Ryan clawing at thin air as the ball sailed into the top right corner.
The hosts then managed to level things up ten minutes later thanks to Aleksandar Mitrovic. A loose cross wasn't dealt with by the Brighton defence and the Serbian striker thrust himself at the ball and bundled it past Ryan.
The momentum was with Fulham and they completed their comeback in the 74th minute. Mitrovic was at it again, rising above Lewis Dunk to get his head on a pin point cross from Joe Bryan.
Fulham all but secured the three points minutes later. Tom Cairney saw his effort crash against the bar and Luciano Vietto was on hand to convert the rebound into the empty net.
Brighton pushed to pull a goal back before the final whistle, but Fulham held firm to secure a vital victory.
Key Talking Point
As we begin to edge closer to the final stages of the season, it is no exaggeration to say that every game is an absolute must win for Fulham - something Claudio Ranieri has already claimed to appreciate.
The first twenty minutes were typically calamitous for the Cottagers, but Ranieri was bold enough to switch things up and it more than paid off. The second-half performance was by far the best 45 minutes of Fulham's season and they were well worthy of the win.
The defensive issues haven't gone away and, if truth be told, it looks as though they are never going to. But if Fulham can replicate that second-half performance for the remainder of the season then they have every chance of beating the drop.
Starting XI: Rico (7); Christie (5), Odoi (5), Le Marchand (5), Ream (4), Bryan (6); Seri (8), Chambers (7); Schurrle (4), Babel (7), Mitrovic (8).
Substitutes: Cairney (7), Vietto (7), Sessegnon (6).
Star Man - Jean Michael Seri
This was exactly the sort of performance Fulham supporters were expecting on a regular basis this season.
Seri was outstanding in the middle of the park, dictating the tempo of the game effortlessly. He demonstrated an impressive range of passing, was positive with the ball at his feet and wasn't afraid to put in his foot in when required.
Mitrovic also deserves a mention for his superb second-half showing where he registered a brace.
Seri's passing today has been nothing short of magnificent— - Lewis - (@hendersonffc) January 29, 2019
Seri is a class above— D (@FFCDom2) January 29, 2019
Unlike many I have grown to really appreciate Seri. Hard task being the metronome in a 2 man midfield.— MK84 (@MKeeno84) January 29, 2019
I so desperately want him to succeed at this wonderful football club.
Worst Player - Tim Ream
As evenings go, this one was far from ideal for Tim Ream.
He endured a shaky start to the game and was sacrificed after just 25 minutes for Tom Cairney as Ranieri switched up Fulham's formation. After witnessing how much the Cottagers improved once he left the pitch, the Italian manager may be leaving him out from the start next time.
Brighton have been enjoying a mostly positive season, but they are currently in somewhat of a rut and have only won one of their previous eight Premier League matches.
It looked as though it was going to be a routine victory once they were two goals to the good, but they seemed to be unable to deal with Fulham once an extra body was introduced in midfield. Chris Hughton opted not to change things up until the second-half and by that point the pattern of the game had already been established.
It seems unlikely that the Seagulls will be dragged into the battle at the bottom, but their recent form is certainly cause for concern.
Starting XI: Ryan (6); Montoya (6), Duffy (6) Dunk (5), Bong (5); Stephens (6), Propper (6), Gross (6); March (6), Locadia (5), Murray (8).
Substitutes: Knockaert (5), Andone (5).
Star Man - Glenn Murray
Murray will probably look back on this game and think of it as a missed opportunity because he had a number of chances to bag a hat-trick in the first-half.
He still scored a brace, which is no mean feat. That means he has now reached double figures for the season, which is rather impressive for a 35-year-old striker playing in a side that are only in their second Premier League campaign.
I’m sorry but Glenn Murray is actually class— Jake Clift (@JakeCliftt) January 29, 2019
Glenn Murray needs a knighthood— Dylan Dean Kupritz (@iamdylandean) January 29, 2019
Not over exaggerating or anything but Glenn Murray has got to be the greatest goalscorer ever to have played the game— Jake Perkins (@jake_perkins7) January 29, 2019
Worst Player - Jurgen Locadia
Locadia worked hard, but he had very little impact on the game and was almost non-existent during the second-half.
He is still playing slightly out of position to accommodate for Murray, so it is a little harsh to lambaste him for struggling out wide.
Both sides have a short break before they are back in Premier League action on Saturday.
Fulham travel across London to face Crystal Palace, whilst Brighton welcome Watford to the Amex.