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AS Roma 2 Fulham 1

last updated Tuesday 29th July 2003, 2:50 PM
Judged by many supporters as Fulham's most testing pre-season friendly of the summer programme, the Whites took on Italian giants AS Roma at the Stadium Franz Fekete Kapfenberg on Saturday evening.

Chris Coleman elected to start the first half with a strong looking line-up. Goal-a-game man Facundo Sava made way for Steve Marlet up front as the French international made his second start of the pre-season.

The Whites started the game slightly on the back foot as some early Roma pressure appeared to catch Fulham cold. The first chance of the game fell to Totti after Cassano crossed from the left. Roma's star player attempted to lob the onrushing Van der Sar but the Dutch 'keeper was quickly out of goal to close down Totti's angles.

After the opening flurries, the match took on a decidedly continental feel with both sides taking turns in their attacks - such was the parity between both teams. On 12 minutes Steve Marlet's low effort was smuggled wide by Pelizzoli for a Fulham corner.

With the game swinging back and forth it was clear to see that Roma's front pairing of Totti and Cassano was going to provide the Fulham rearguard with a testing challenge. Indeed, the duo managed to combine on 15 minutes but a brave block from Martin Djetou smothered the danger.

Steed Malbranque was next to test the Roma back line. Excellent work from Steve Marlet resulted in his interception of a defensive pass from Chivu. Gathering his bearings, Marlet placed a pin-point cross at the feet of an unmarked Malbranque. Unfortunately for Fulham, Malbranque elected to wait for the bounce before firing his shot towards goal. His slight hesitation allowed Chivu to recover and put in a blocking challenge.

Roma took the lead on 26 minutes after Totti received the ball 40 yards from goal and lofted a pass to Cassano who ran past Dean Leacock to chip over Van der Sar. Leacock continued his run and hooked the ball clear, but only after the Cassano's effort was adjudged to have crossed the line.

Roma's lead lasted only a matter of seconds as Fulham wasted no time in striking back through a spectacular Louis Saha effort. Just as the crowd was settling down, the young striker latched on to the ball and hammered a magnificent 25-yard left-footed shot into the top corner of the net.

Whilst neither side made wholesale changes at half-time, as the second half continued, the Whites gradually began introducing more Academy graduates as Chris Coleman fully utilised the players at his disposal.

After Fulham suffered an early scare when Legwinski's weak back-pass was intercepted by Totti - Louis Saha almost put Fulham in front on 47 minutes. The French front man displayed a stunning burst of speed to dispossess Zabina but as he sped towards goal, a last-ditch covering tackle from Samuel managed to deny Saha a direct shot.

The action then quickly moved to the other end of the field when Totti was dubiously sent clear by Chivu. Ignoring appeals for offside, the linesman allowed Totti to continue his run. However with Taylor fast approaching, Totti tried to be too cute in his attempt to round the 'keeper and Taylor comfortably gathered at his feet.

The Whites managed to maintain a good spell of possession midway through the second half, with Roma mainly relying on the counter-attack. The culmination of Fulham's domination came on 71 minutes when Lee Clark and Jon Harley combined well down the left.

Harley eventually cut the ball into Clark's path in a well-worked move. Fortunately for Roma the end-result did not match the quality of the build-up and Clark's shot was deflected behind.

The Italians finished the final ten minutes of the match the stronger of the two sides after Fulham had introduced a full compliment of youngsters. A central midfield of Rehman and Buari held their own well against their more experienced counterparts. But with two minutes to go Roma snatched the winning goal through Bombardini, who fizzed a low shot past Maik Taylor.

First Half Fulham XI: (4-4-2)
Van der Sar, Leacock, Goma, Djetou, Bonnissel, Legwinski, Inamoto, Clark, Malbranque, Saha, Marlet

Second Half Fulham XI: (4-4-2)
Taylor, Rehman, Goma, Djetou, Harley. Legwinski, Inamoto, Clark, Malbranque, Saha, Boa Morte

Finishing Fulham XI: (4-4-2)
Taylor, Green, Knight, Hudson, Harley, Boa Morte, Buari, Rehman, Hammond, Sava, Hayles

First half Roma: (4-4-2)
Pelizzoli, Panucci, Candela, Chivu, Samuel, Tommasi, Guigou, Lima, Delvecchio, Totti, Cassano,

Second Half Roma: (4-4-2)
Pelizzoli, Panucci, Candela, Chivu, Samuel, Dacourt, Zabina, Lima, Delvecchio, Totti, Cassano,
Source Fulhamfc.com
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