Gianfranco Zola admitted he would celebrate with “a lot of wine” after Birmingham claimed their first win since he joined the club.
Zola’s first win at the 11th attempt came when Lukas Jutkiewicz scored in the 75th minute, just six minutes after Fulham’s Ryan Fredericks had been sent off, to claim a 1-0 Championship win over the Cottagers.
Afterwards, when he was asked how he would celebrate the belated win, Zola said: “With a lot of wine and it will be Italian! It is not going to be only one bottle!”
The former Watford boss added: “We have been waiting a while for the win and we are delighted.
“It was a difficult, tough game against tough opposition as our confidence has not been 100 per cent. We faced the task and came up with a good victory after creating a lot of chances.
“The win was just a little step forward and we have a lot more to make in the future. It is just the beginning and we will improve in many aspects.”
Zola paid credit to his players and in particular to match-winner Jutkiewicz and his recent signing Cheick Keita.
He said: “Sometimes Lukas doesn’t score but his work-rate is important for the team. Although he should have scored in the first half he didn’t lose confidence and he was there when it mattered.
“It was Keita’s first game and the way he played I thought he was excellent. He made the goal and produced a perfect cross from which Lukas scored.”
Jutkiewicz was undoubtedly Birmingham’s goalscoring hero. He had a match of mixed fortunes after a couple of earlier missed chances but he atoned imidway through the second half with the crucial goal which lifted the gloom that had settled over St.Andrew’s.
It was the former Burnley striker’s 10th goal of the season and could not have come at a better time after Birmingham’s dismal run since the arrival of Zola.
It was a disappointing day for Fulham who impressed with the quality of their play but they failed to penetrate a resolute Birmingham defence in which veteran Paul Robinson emerged as their stalwart.
The defeat is obviously a set-back to Fulham’s aspirations of making the play-offs but there were glimpses of their potential with the likes of teenager Ryan Sessegnon and Sone Aluko showing up well.
Fulham, however, paid a heavy price for the close range misses of Stefan Johansen and Chris Martin.
A downcast Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic said: “It was disappointing but generally we didn’t produce our best play. Birmingham were more solid and the sending off of Fredericks killed us. We couldn’t find enough power to change the game.
“I prefer not to make any comment on the sending off but the result was a big set-back.
“Following our recent games we thought we could take the points but we had problems with their long balls.
“We tried to find a solution after the sending off but I cannot complain about my team as they pushed hard.
“On the day we didn’t produce our best form.”