Parker hopes Arter wonder-strike builds winning momentum for Fulham

Scott Parker saluted a pair of wonder-strikes after Anthony Knockaert and Harry Arter fired Fulham past Aston Villa and into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Knockaert cut inside to curl home a trademerk strike from the corner of the penalty area to put Fulham ahead nine minutes into the second half.

And after Anwar El Ghazi equalised for the Premier League side, Arter climbed off the bench to score a memorable first goal in almost two years and seal a 2-1 win.

The on-loan Bournemouth midfielder had been on the pitch for less than two minutes when he took aim from 25 yards.

His looping, dipping effort crashed into the top corner out of the reach of helpless Villa keeper Orjan Nyland.

It was a particularly special moment given Arter was making his first appearance in three months after being struck down with a calf injury.

Parker, who is Arter’s brother in law, said: “Both goals were pretty special.

“But for Harry, in the sense he has been out for three months, he’s worked hard for some long and lonely days, and when you probably doubt what you have, to come on and score the winner probably justifies everything.

“So for that moment, and for what it was, probably Harry’s was better.

“I’m pleased for him, he’s worked hard. He’s got himself a positiion and had a shot. It was a good moment.

“He came in at the beginning of the season and is a player we knew would give us something.

“It’s a shame he had a big injury but we all understand the player we’ve got. It’s moments like this, for both Harry and the team, that we need to build on.

“The result was plaeasing and the performance was oustanding. We lacked a bit in the final third in the first half and we spoke about that at half-time, and in the second half we executed it very well.

“Hopefully we can build on that. Winning football games is vital for us. This team was used to losing and losing becomes a habit like winning does.

“Big performances and big wins, against a Premier League side like Aston Villa, build belief. It’s a key moment for us in that sense.”

After a scrappy first half, Knockaert began the second by cutting inside from the right and sent a curling shot inches wide.

It proved to be the perfect sighter as, in the 54th minute, the winger repeated the trick, dancing past Marvelous Nakamba and, this time, launching a superb shot past Nyland.

Villa hit back in the 63rd minute when Michael Hector, making his long-awaited Fulham debut after signing from Chelsea in September, lost Jonathan Kodjia on the edge of the box.

Kodjia lifted the ball over Fulham keeper Marek Rodak towards an empty net, where El Ghazi tapped the ball in from all of six inches out.

But Arter was introduced in the 72nd minute and his first contribution settled the match, leaving Nyland with no chance as he launched his rocket into the top corner.

Villa boss Dean Smith, who also has a Premier League survival battle and a League Cup semi-final against Leicester on Wednesday to contend with, made nine changes to his side.

He said: “You never like losing, but with the amount of games we’ve had and the amount we’ve got in January, I think everyone could see from the selection that this wasn’t our top priority.

“I didn’t think it was a great spectacle, to be honest, but the game has been won by two wonder goals.

“It was an average performance. It appeared to be two even teams on the day, we had the best chances in the first half, when El Ghazi should score.

“We huffed and puffed in the first half, then in the second half El Ghazi gets tackled at one end and Knockaert sticks one in the top corner at the other.

“We got a good equaliser, and then Harry Arter scored a goal he’ll never score again.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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