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Fulham 1-2 Blackburn - Cottagers beaten by lino

last updated Wednesday 11th March 2009, 11:27 PM

Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer
Fulham keeper
Mark Schwarzer
A controversial equaliser from El-Hadji Diouf set relegation-strugglers Blackburn on the road to a 2-1 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage, with Jason Roberts sealing the win five minutes from time.

Clint Dempsey had given the home side a lead after just 90 seconds but the impressive Stephen Warnock gave Fulham a series of scares before they finally succumbed.

Diouf appeared to be offside by a considerable distance moments before he scored, but the decision not to flag may prove crucial to Rovers' survival hopes.

A minute's silence was held prior to kick-off to mark the passing of former Fulham star Eddie Low, who made more than 500 appearances for the club.

If that started proceedings in a sombre fashion, the mood soon turned to a celebratory one, with Dempsey putting the hosts in front after little more than a minute.

Danny Murphy bundled a high ball through to the American, replacing the rested Bobby Zamora as Andrew Johnson's foil in attack, and a barely-there challenge from Christopher Samba followed by Ryan Nelsen's clumsy follow-up allowed Dempsey room to prod left-footed beyond Robinson.

The scorching tempo carried on as Dempsey almost turned creator after eight minutes, neatly flicking Simon Davies' low cross into Johnson's path before Warnock blocked superbly.

Dempsey continued with his eye-catching early efforts, completely wrong-footing the Rovers defence with a delicate touch that gave Davies sight of goal.

Match Stats Fulham Blackburn
Goals 1 2
Possession 53% 47%
Goal attempts 12 17
On Target 4 8
Corners 9 9
Off-sides 1 6
Saves 6 3
Fouls 14 8
Yellows 1 1
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet
The Wales winger shot firmly but this time Robinson was able to palm away the danger.

After 17 minutes, and against the run of play, the scores were almost level.

Roberts did well to outmuscle the imposing Brede Hangeland but it was Warnock, who jinked inside Aaron Hughes before striking the inside of the post with a wonderful curling effort, who really unlocked the defence.

Inexplicably, Zoltan Gera failed to make it 2-0 when he headed over an open net from three yards following a long-throw routine.

Fulham's complete control of proceedings started to falter a touch, with Hangeland and Hughes getting steadily busier as Blackburn worked their way into the game.

Johnson and Dempsey, meanwhile, continued to prove willing outlets in the final third for the Cottagers, with Davies offering plentiful support out wide.

Tugay and Murphy were also enjoying a combative tussle in midfield, but it was finesse, not brawn Blackburn lacked.

Roberts, first with a sliced shot from 18 yards and again with a poor header from significantly closer, epitomised their first-half struggles.

By the start of the second period almost all of the skill had drained from the game, with Gera aimlessly losing possession and Murphy's shoddy backpass only going unpunished thanks to a poor touch from Pedersen.

Hangeland's header from a 50th-minute corner almost troubled Paul Robinson but it needed a deflection off Roberts before it looked dangerous.

Johnson, often so razor sharp in front of goal, also started to struggle, taking three touches to control a perfectly flighted cross from Paul Konchesky and surrendering all momentum in the process.

It took another fine effort from the unfortunate Warnock to brighten proceedings, the former Liverpool man taking one touch on his chest before volleying hard at Schwarzer's goal.

Not for the first time this season, the Australian was up to the task, tipping the ball wide at full stretch.

Johnson narrowly missed another well-placed Konchesky pass on the six-yard line as Fulham tried to rediscover their early vim, but Gael Givet was on hand to clear.

At the other end substitute Benni McCarthy was having a hard time inspiring Rovers, taking what seemed like an age lining up a free-kick before despatching it harmlessly into the stand.

Rovers, though, had their equaliser with 21 minutes to play.

It came in contested circumstances, with Diouf seemingly all of three yards offside when Tugay headed the ball into the home penalty box.

No flag was raised and when Samba nodded across goal the Senegal forward was in position to convert from close range.

Moments later Warnock went close for a third time, again striking from distance and again missing by inches as his drilled shot crept just over the crossbar.

The visitors were by now a side revitalised, with right-back Andre Ooijer even going close, just missing with a 25-yard piledriver.

With 85 minutes gone Roberts completed the comeback, spinning the lightweight Tony Kallio far to easily in the penalty area before lashing powerfully beyond Schwarzer.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes (Kallio 77), Konchesky, Davies (Nevland 90), Etuhu, Murphy, Gera (Kamara 80), Dempsey, Johnson.
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Dacourt, Gray, Stoor.

Booked: Murphy (52,f).

Goals: Dempsey 2.

Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Givet, Andrews (McCarthy 56), Kerimoglu (Mokoena 82), Warnock, Diouf, Roberts, Pedersen (Dunn 86).
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Khizanishvili, Villanueva, Simpson. Booked: Diouf.

Goals: Diouf 69, Roberts 85.

Att: 22,259

Ref: Rob Styles (Hampshire).

BBC Sport man of the match: Fulham's Mark Schwarzer

Source soccernet
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