Fulham manager Scott Parker hailed teenage goalscorer Fabio Carvalho as the one “shining bright light” after his side’s 3-1 defeat to Southampton at St Mary’s.
Carvalho scored Fulham’s consolation, his maiden goal for the Cottagers on his first start.
Southampton took the lead in the first half when Che Adams struck from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick before Nathan Tella netted his first goal for Southampton.
Carvalho briefly gave Fulham hope before substitute Theo Walcott restored Saints’ two-goal advantage with a clinical finish.
“It (Carvalho’s performance) didn’t surprise me, he’s in the team because we’re searching for goals, we’re searching for someone to put the ball in the net and we’ve been searching for that for a little bit,” Parker said.
“He stepped into the side today to do that. At under-23 level he scores goals and he’s shown in training that he can do that so he was in the team today because he deserved to be in it, not because it was an opportunity to put him in, but because of the reasons that he showed.
“I’m delighted for him, there’s one shining bright light from today and that’s Fabio so that was a massive plus really.”
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl also praised Tella for his first senior club goal after a career which has already had injury problems.
“Absolutely, it is time that he scores his first goal. I think he had a couple of good opportunities so far but the way he was working for the team today, he deserves this goal,” the Austrian said.
“I was very happy for him, very happy for his assist. Theo was also fantastic, he came in and stabilised the team and was good.”
“It’s a special moment for a young striker. He’s got a smile on his face always, and this is what I really liked from him because he enjoys working for the team, he enjoys playing with us.”
Hasenhuttl added: “I must say that I was very pleased with my side today, the guys showed a very good performance.
“It’s just getting better and better and it’s not a coincidence that we’ve scored 10 goals in the last four home games, so it is definitely part of our game that has developed since we have had more opportunities, more players coming back also.
“The subs today had a brilliant impact in the game, this is what you need sometimes in a tight game.”