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Fulham 0-3 Southampton Prem 24 1314 Daily Telegraph

last updated Monday 03rd February 2014, 11:31 PM
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Tom Prentki at Daily Telegraph

Fulham (0) 0 Southampton (0) 3

New manager, new coaches, new players: same old Fulham. The division's most porous defence was severely punished by Southampton as Rene Muelensteen's side sunk to the foot of the table, contemplating fixtures against Manchester United and Liverpool in their bid to avoid relegation.

"It's about us, no matter what other teams do," said Muelensteen, who described the job of keeping Fulham up as the "biggest challenge I've ever faced". He said: "It's all about results and we can't look at what other teams do but you won't find a more disappointed group than those players in the dressing room."

Kostas Mitroglou was introduced to the crowd before kick-off but he may be questioning his decision to turn his back on Champions League football after an abject display from the home side. He should not have too much trouble getting in the team at least.

Muelensteen admitted that he was not sure when the Greek striker would be fit to play and said he was surprised to see Dimitar Berbatov leave the club on deadline day.

There was little to choose between the sides at half-time with Darren Bent twice foiled by saves from Artur Boruc, though in truth he should have scored.

Patient and composed, Mauricio Pochettino's players were content to dominate possession without creating clear openings, though Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana posed an unrelenting threat each time they featured.

"We're very calm, we're very tranquil," the Argentine said of his team's recent form. "We have quite a young team and we also don't have that many players in the squad because that's what we wanted. The main thing is we haven't forgotten the philosophy and the style of football we want to play."

A small glimmer of hope for Fulham amid the winter gloom came in the shape of Lewis Holtby who pivoted well between midfield and attack on his debut and was at the heart of what little attacking football they mustered. Fellow debutant William Kvist was anonymous in a midfield which Southampton dominated.

"Lewis Holtby's just a fantastic footballer," Muelensteen said. "To be honest, it speaks volumes that he's chosen to come to us and I'm absolutely delighted."

The quality of goals from Saints' England contingent will have had the watching Roy Hodgson further contemplating their inclusion in his Brazil-bound squad. Shaw's chances must also be increasing after another impressive display. "If Roy Hodgson was in attendance in the games against Yeovil, Arsenal and Fulham then he would have seen our strikers scoring goals. That was very important for them," Pochettino said.

Lallana crisply finished the first of Southampton's superb counter-attacks, picking up Rickie Lambert's weighted pass to fire across Maarten Stekelenburg.

Seven minutes later Lambert converted after Nathaniel Clyne had sprinted to the byline and cut back to provide the Liverpudlian with a simple finish.

The finest of the three goals was the last as Jay Rodriguez collected Lambert's wonderful long-range pass, ghosted in from the left and curled a perfectly judged shot into the top-right corner. "He's off to Brazil," sang visiting supporters after each goal.

By the time Rodriguez was celebrating his effort, many of Fulham's fans had left. Those who remained ensured the team left the field to much vituperation and were met by the sort of disconsolate expressions which betrayed a desperate lack of confidence, and perhaps more worryingly, a lack of fight.

Fulham (4-2-3-1) Stekelenburg 6; Riether 6, Burn 6, Hangeland 6, Richardson 5; Parker 5 (Kasami 73), Kvist 5 (Tankovic 83); Holtby 7, Sidwell 5, Duff 5 (Dempsey 64); Bent 5.
Subs Stockdale, Kasami, Kacaniklic, Rodallega, Tankovic, Passley.

Southampton (4-2-3-1) Boruc 7; Chambers 6 (Clyne 58), Fonte 7, Yoshida 7, Shaw 8; Wanyama 6 (Cork 46), Schneiderlin 7; S. Davis 7, Lallana 8, Rodriguez 8 (Gallagher 87); Lambert 8.
Subs K. Davis, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Hooiveld. Booked Rodriguez, Wanyama, Schneiderlin.

Referee M Jones (Cheshire).

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