Belfast Telegraph

Ranieri happy for Mitrovic to stay on spot-kick duty after costly miss

By Jonathan Veal

Claudio Ranieri has backed Aleksandar Mitrovic to take Fulham's next penalty despite the striker missing from the spot in Sunday's 2-1 FA Cup loss to Oldham.

The Serbian frontman failed to convert a penalty before the League Two side visitors stole a late winner at a stunned Craven Cottage.

The former Newcastle United striker had proved Fulham's hero when netting a last-gasp winner in the 1-0 home victory over Huddersfield Town on December 29.

Aboubakar Kamara defied team orders to take - and miss - a penalty only for Mitrovic to eventually save the day against the Terriers.

Ranieri conceded Mitrovic missing on his very next penalty opportunity proved rotten bad luck - but nothing more.

"I wanted Aleksandar to take the penalty," said Ranieri.

"He's our penalty taker and it was just unfortunate that he missed, especially after what happened previously.

"But I will definitely back him to take the next one. I have no problems with that, or Aleksandar."

Denis Odoi put Fulham ahead after a goalless first half, only for the hosts to fail to wrap up what should have proved a routine victory.

Instead Sam Surridge equalised from a penalty of his own, before Mitrovic failed with his spot-kick.

And then at the death Callum Lang powered home a header to stun Fulham and spark jubilant on-field and touchline celebrations from a delirious Oldham contingent.

A frustrated Ranieri must now pick up his Fulham side for Saturday's crucial Premier League relegation scrap at Burnley.

The Italian handed starting berths to a string of fringe players and will no doubt restore his regular XI at Turf Moor.

"I gave chances to players but they missed the chance," said Ranieri. "I didn't see the passion, or the desire. I only saw passion and desire from Oldham."

Belfast Telegraph

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