Claudio Ranieri rued the two defining moments moments that took Fulham closer to relegation with a 2-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.
Ranieri’s 19th-placed team are already seven points from safety and in their coming seven Premier League fixtures, amid three away from home, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City all visit Craven Cottage.
An improved display against Tottenham followed by Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over Brighton had given them a sense of momentum completely taken from them at Selhurst Park, and where they contributed to their latest defeat.
Aleksandar Mitrovic wasted a fine chance to give them an early lead when he sent a header wide from in front of goal, and Palace then went ahead from a penalty that was gifted to Luka Milivojevic by Cyrus Christie’s handball.
After that intimidating run Fulham will have only six matches remaining, and Ranieri said: “We managed the ball very well, we created one chance with Mitrovic, and then there was a stupid foul, maybe (Christie’s) hand was pushed, and that moment changed the match.
“If Mitrovic scored a goal in that moment, it would have changed the match, because when you’re playing well and have a chance to score a goal, everyone becomes stronger, but that’s football.
“Maybe we spent a lot of energy against Brighton when we were 2-0 down.
“All the big teams are coming to Craven Cottage, and maybe we can take some points from the big teams.
“We wanted points here. It wasn’t possible, but maybe it’ll be possible against the big teams at home.
“We have to be positive every time, until the end. I want the maximum in every training session. I want the maximum in every match. I’m positive.”
Palace’s second goal came in the 87th minute when Michy Batshuayi, only five minutes into his debut as a substitute having arrived on loan from Chelsea, held off Denis Odoi and skilfully turned to force the save from Sergio Rico that left Jeffrey Schlupp with a tap-in.
The Belgian’s compatriot Christian Benteke had earlier struck the crossbar with an ambitious bicycle kick on his first start since September 1, and their manager Roy Hodgson said: “It was an incredible impact (for Batshuayi).
“He has a record of scoring in almost every debut he’s had for other teams, so that was in my mind and he almost kept that record going.
“He got the assist as the goalkeeper couldn’t take the shot and Jeff did ever so well to follow it up and tap it in, but it was strong of him to come in at such short notice and do what he did.
“The thing Christian has to do is win everyone over by scoring some goals. I’ve been at the club 16 months and he’s scored three.
“I’m very pleased to see Christian back because I believe he’s got those goals in him, but up to now we haven’t benefited from them.”