Friday 20 September 2019

Thrilled Ranieri wants more

Fulham 3 Southampton 2

Claudio Ranieri:
Claudio Ranieri: "I asked the players to fight until the end." Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Claudio Ranieri praised the character of his Fulham players after marking his Premier League return with a victory that lifted his side off the bottom of the table with a first win since August, but warned further improvement is required.

"It's an important match," the former Chelsea and Leicester boss said.

Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham celebrates scoring the winning goal. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham celebrates scoring the winning goal. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

"Everybody is very, very pleased, but it's a little step. It's not an easy job, but I believe.

"I believed. I asked the players to fight until the end. We played a good match, but we conceded too many chances. We have to improve a lot. We have to work hard to improve tactically."

Stuart Armstrong netted a brace - his first Saints goals - either side of strikes from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle for Fulham. Mitrovic restored the hosts' lead with a crisp volley after 63 minutes and Fulham held on to win, taking his season's tally to seven goals as he scored for the first time since September.

Ranieri said: "For me, Mitrovic is one of the best strikers in Europe. And when I say in Europe, say the whole world. He's only 24. He's a fantastic player. It's important to give the ball to him."

Mohamed Elyounoussi of Southampton in action with Tom Cairney of Fulham. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Mohamed Elyounoussi of Southampton in action with Tom Cairney of Fulham. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Southampton have not won since September 1 and Hughes, who had an 11-month stint at Craven Cottage in 2010-11, has just three wins in 21 league games since his appointment in March.

Visiting supporters booed the late substitution of Armstrong, not appreciating the Scotland midfielder had cramp.

Hughes, who felt Saints deserved to win, said: "I don't think anybody's surprised by it. Everybody's frustrated."

Hughes acknowledged there will be speculation about his future.

"There's always questions, there's always noise," he added. "At times it's a little bit unfair . . . It doesn't faze me. I've gone through these periods before. You just get on with it."

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