Alaves won a bruising pre-season clash
at Craven Cottage 1-0 and hurt Jean Tigana's build-up to next Sunday's
Premiership bow at Old Trafford. The Spaniards, last season's UEFA Cup
finalists, scored the only goal against the run of play on 39 minutes
when Ruben Navarro played a 1-2 with Vucko and chipped Edwin Van der Sar
Tigana fielded the probable starting XI for next week's top-flight baptism
at Old Trafford with new boys John Harley, Steed Malbranque and Edwin
Van der Sar all beginning the game, which developed into a physical tussle
in the opening stages.
A number of wild challenges from the Alaves players, possibly reacting
to the unfortunate early injury of Desio, spoilt the match and belied
its billing as a friendly. Desio had to go off after a 50-50 tackle with
Steve Finnan and was replaced by Pablo Gomez.
Spanish international Oscar Tellez was fortunate to remain on the pitch
after five minutes when Van der Sar claimed Mara's cross and launched
a 70-yard kick downfield to Louis Saha. The livewire Frenchman was about
to slip through on goal when Tellez reached out to handle the ball, but
the ref spared him the red card.
Malbranque was tripped by Astudillo Martin and Barry Hayles had penalty
appeals rejected as the visitors resorted to foul means to stop Fulham's
Saha and Malbranque came in for the roughest attention from the Alaves
defence, marshalled by Tellez - nicknamed "The Rottweiler",
who looked solid in the air and useful on the ground. The 26-year-old
curled a free-kick just wide of Van der Sar's goal midway through the
half as the Spanish finally got their own passing going.
Hayles was the victim of another painful challenge moments later and went
down for some treatment before Alaves struck on the break to take an interval
lead through summer signing Navarro.
The second half was just as rough and Tellez took matters into his own
hands when he kicked out at Hayles after bringing him down from behind
for a free-kick. The official again took no action and the big defender
stayed on to concede a corner with a clearing header, from which Saha
glanced an effort just wide.
Finnan's first time effort was saved by Burgos on the hour after The Cottagers
best football of the half but Hayles was then substituted as he grew visibly
angry after more physical treatment from the Alaves defence.
The 5,113 crowd were denied a Fulham equaliser, despite late pressure
from Tigana's side, when sub Ouaddou headed straight at the keeper from
Bjarne Goldbaek's corner and Saha's late effort nestled behind the goal
from Boa Morte's through ball.
Edwin Van der Sar,
Steve Finnan, Alain Goma, Andy Melville (c), Jon Harley,
Sean Davis(Abdeslam Ouaddou), Steed Malbranque(Bjarne Goldbaek), Lee Clark,
Barry Hayles(Luis Boa Morte), Louis Saha
Subs: Bjarne Goldbaek, Andrejs Stolcers, Zak Knight, Maik Taylor,
Abdeslam Ouaddou, Luis Boa Morte, Kit Symons, Abdel-Satar
match for Fulham is away to Man Utd on Sunday the 19th August!!
COME ON YOU WHITES