Number 5: four minutes on the clock at Stamford Bridge, Murphy sends Nevland clear, and Nevland did what Nevland did so well, and we’re a goal up. It didn’t last (for Fulham or Nevland himself: Chelsea got 3; Nevland went off injured) – but for a moment there…
Number 4: Stoke City at home, Murphy sends a booming long pass over the top, Dempsey takes it down expertly and then is taken down clumsily. Penalty! Dempsey persuades Murphy that he should take it, and then scores. Tony Pulis cryptically suggests that Dempsey had been ‘clever’ in the penalty incident, as if being rugby tackled by two panicking centre-backs requires great deviousness.
Number 3: Newcastle at home, a hell of a struggle, then in the second half Murphy gets the room he’s craved all game and sends Duff clear, and the former Newcastle man bundles the ball home. Phew. This was great on a few levels: Newcastle had been squeezing space and harrassing like mad things, so for Murphy to spy the crack in the defence and take advantage so swiftly was fantastic, almost assassin like (waiting coolly for the moment, then *bang*), one of those “wow” moments that football does so well; it gave Duff a nice chance to respond to his critics in the north east, and of course provided the team with a valuable win.
Number 2: The Europa League, so far, yet so far. Mladen Petric’s wondergoal is the difference between the sides, and for all the crowd input (“stand up, etc” – for some reason I still find that chant really annoying) it doesn’t feel like it’s happening. Then Murphy drops the ball into Simon Davies’ path and Davies somehow wriggles and juggles and knocks it home! It’s on! Zoltan Gera pounces and we’re going to Germany.
Number 1: The dying embers of our Premiership life. Jimmy Bullard is the midfielder everyone has been raving about, but Murphy’s is the power behind the throne. He really nearly springs Kamara through the pushed up City defensive line, only for (I think) Elano to intervene with a desperate interception. But then another chance arises and this time Murphy’s ball is inch perfect, Kamara races off and thrashes home the goal that gives us half a chance at staying up. Wowzers. Then of course Murphy completed the job in Portsmouth himself.