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Match Report - Fulham 0 Middlesbrough 2

last updated Wednesday 25th August 2004, 11:08 PM
Fulham keeper Edwin van der Sar
Fulham keeper Edwin van der Sar kept the score down against Boro.
Edwin van der Sar Stories

Mark Viduka celebrated his Middlesbrough debut with the opening goal at Craven Cottage on Wednesday evening as Steve McClaren's men edged out Fulham in a finely-poised encounter which came alive during the last half-hour.

Boro fans were given their first glimpse of Viduka with the £4.5million summer signing from Leeds having completed the two-match ban he incurred towards the end of his time at Elland Road - and he did not disappoint.

A missed opportunity shortly before the interval gave the 28-year-old plenty to atone for in the second half and he did just that, combining with strike partner Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to put Boro on the path to victory.

Substitute Szilard Nemeth put the result beyond doubt 11 minutes from time with the highly-impressive Boudewijn Zenden - who had a hand in most of the visitors' attacking moves - providing the catalyst.

Boro showed greater invention in the final third and grew in stature as the game went on with Viduka and Hasselbaink combining to good effect up front until the Australian's substitution in the 71st minute.

Fulham hardly had a shot on goal but competed on level terms in other departments, especially in midfield where skipper Sylvain Legwinski and Pape Bouba Diop ran the show until the last 30 minutes.

The Cottagers' lack of penetration will come as a bitter disappointment to boss Chris Coleman who saw his side in creative mood against Bolton on Saturday, a match won 2-0 with plenty to spare.

Andy Cole - who opened his Fulham account with a brace against the Trotters - looked the home team's most likely source of a goal while his fellow new arrival Tomasz Radzinski also enjoyed a fine evening.

The Canadian forward almost gave Fulham the perfect start but he could not control Claus Jensen's superb free-kick to the far post and headed his effort high over the crossbar.

Zenden was proving a handful in Boro's midfield, cutting inside regularly and looking to release Viduka and Hasselbaink but Fulham's defence was alive to the threat.

Ray Parlour tried his luck from 30 yards out after being teed-up by George Boateng only for his well-hit shot to drift inches over while a Hasselbaink free kick was gathered up by Edwin van der Sar moments later.

Fulham fans had been given little to cheer so far but that soon changed in the 20th minute with Radzinski's pace setting up two opportunities, the first being cut out by Southgate and second seeing Mark Schwarzer clear with Cole ready to pounce.

Legwinski was doing a sound job of breaking up Boro's attacks in midfield and one crunching challenge on Boateng preceded a fine opportunity with Cole heading back across goal to Collins John whose header was kept out by Schwarzer.

Diop - another player who was making his presence felt with some robust tackles - nodded wide after good work from Carlos Bocanegra but then it was Boro's turn to threaten.

Match Stats Fulham Boro
Goals 0 2
Poss. 46% 54%
Goal attempts 6 10
On Target 2 5
Offsides 2 9
Corners 1 6
Fouls 10 8
Yellows 0 1
Reds 0 0
source: soccernet

Zenden cut inside from the left before feeding Viduka on the edge of the area and the 28-year-old forward turned and fired straight into the arms of van der Sar, who would have been beaten by a shot into the corner.

A marauding run from Radzinski down the left flank opened up Boro but Cole was unable to meet his final ball, failing to reach it by the narrowest of margins as Schwarzer dived in to save the day.

Former England Under-21 defender Stuart Parnaby forced van der Sar into action as Boro enjoyed an encouraging end to the half as Fulham were forced onto the defensive.

Zenden penetrated deep into enemy territory three minutes after the interval and found his fellow Dutchman Hasselbaink unmarked on the edge of the area, leaving Fulham dangerously exposed.

Hasselbaink slipped the ball across the face of goal to the onrushing Viduka but the former Leeds marksman fell short of the pass and a promising move petered out.

The deadlock was broken in the 54th minute with a near-identical move from Boro, although this time it was Spain international Gaizka Mendieta who set the wheels in motion for the visitors' strike duo to combine.

Hasselbaink took Mendieta's pass and fed possession to Viduka, who was moving towards goal at the other side of the area and this time the former Chelsea striker's pass was perfectly weighted and Viduka steered home.

A powerful drive across goal from Hasselbaink failed to find Zenden who was rooted to the spot while at the other end Radzinski was bundled away from Bocanegra's cross by an attentive Boro defence.

Viduka was substituted in the 71st minute with Joseph-Desire Job taking his place and moments later Radzinski nearly levelled with his chip sailing just past the right-hand post.

Boro put the result beyond doubt in the 79th minute when Zenden slipped the ball to Franck Queudrue and the Frenchman fired to the far post where substitute Nemeth was on hand to bundle home.

Fulham Van der Sar, Volz, Bocanegra, Goma, Knight, Legwinski, Diop (Boa Morte 74), Radzinski, Jensen, John (McBride 62), Cole.

Subs Not Used: Crossley, Pembridge, Bonnissel.

Middlesbrough Schwarzer, Queudrue, Riggott, Southgate, Parnaby, Boateng (Doriva 89), Mendieta (Nemeth 77), Parlour, Zenden, Viduka (Job 71), Hasselbaink.

Subs Not Used: Nash, Cooper.

Booked: Zenden.

Goals: Viduka 54, Nemeth 79.

Att: 17,759

Ref: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire)

Source Sporting Life

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