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Fulham 1 Leeds 0 - Match Report

last updated Saturday 07th December 2002, 6:15 PM

Fulham (1) 1 Leeds (0) 0
Terry Venables' terrible run continued as his team tumbled to a 1-0 defeat at Fulham, with only goalkeeper Paul Robinson saving United from a real stuffing.

This entirely-deserved loss was the Yorkshire side's 10th in the Premiership, leaving the Elland Road faithful anticipating a five-month battle against relegation.

Fulham striker Luis boa Morte
Fulham striker Luis Boa Morte on fire for Fulham
Only luck, the woodwork and Robinson's heroics prevented crisis club United from total collapse against a patched-up Fulham strikeforce in a bristling first half at Loftus Road.

Martin Djetou rose unmarked to head home Pierre Wome's corner for the winner after just after nine minutes - his first Cottagers goal.

And as the home side dominated, stand-in forward Steed Malbranque hit the crossbar.

But it was Robinson, in front of England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who was the star for Leeds with a catalogue of top-drawer saves to keep the half-time deficit at a single goal.

Leeds finally displayed a few murmurings of attacking invention after the interval - but they barely compared to Fulham's succession of chances as former England boss Venables' misery continued.

It was the battle of the out-of-form teams, with Tigana's team having taken just five points from a possible 24 and United struggling badly.

Fulham were without all four recognised strikers and discovered last night that Barry Hayles will be out until July as he needs necks surgery.

The visitors were unable to call on Mark Viduka (shoulder), Harry Kewell (virus) and Lee Bowyer (ankle).

Leeds were an absolute shambles at the back early on, with Robinson berating his defenders after Ian Harte blocked Bjarne Goldbaek's thunderous drive.

At the other end, Alan Smith showed neat footwork to shoot tamely from 16 yards, with Edwin van der Sar gathering easily.

But United's shocking defensive play was the talking point, with Malbranque spinning on a sixpence to feed Luis Boa Morte - who outpaced Harte and shot across the face of goal.

In an action-replay in the ninth minute, Michael Duberry saved the day - and it was no surprise when Fulham took the lead moments later.

Djetou rose totally unmarked to power home Wome's right-wing corner.

Leeds were all over the place, sparking glum looks from chairman Peter Ridsdale in the directors box, when Goldbaek fired just wide.

Tempers frayed in the 13th minute when Jason Wilcox clattered Sylvain Legwinski, who responded by repeatedly shoving the Leeds midfielder and earning the first booking from referee Paul Durkin.

Match Stats Fulham Leeds
Goal attempts 14 7
On Target 5 4
Hit Woodwork 2 0
Offsides 4 1
Corners 9 1
Fouls 10 14
Yellows 3 4
Reds 0 0
source: www.sportinglife.com
Only a last-gasp Jonathan Woodgate tackle prevented Malbranque putting Boa Morte through on goal again.

Robinson was screaming at his defenders again at the half-way point in the first period, after they allowed Malbranque space to unleash a shot which the keeper dived full length to turn round his left-hand post.

The Leeds goal was besieged now, with only luck and Robinson acrobatics preventing them falling two goals behind in a hugely-entertaining game.

Boa Morte raced goalwards in the 31st minute, spinning Woodgate and shooting into the midriff of Duberry.

The ball rebounded to Malbranque, who smacked a 10-yard volley against the face of the United crossbar.

And 30 seconds later, Steve Finnan whipped in a right-flank cross which Davis met with a thumping header to bring a marvellous flying save from Robinson.

The Leeds keeper pulled off a scarcely-believeable double-save three minutes before the interval. He did well to parry Wome's rasping 20-yard drive - and somehow recovered in time to deflect Malbranque's point-blank follow-up effort round his post.

Venables threw on Robbie Fowler, just back from his hip operation, in place of Smith at half-time. And the ex-Liverpool man was booked after just two minutes after clashing with Wome, who was also shown the yellow card.

Leeds did finally show some invention just before the hour, when Stephen McPhail's dipping 25-yard volley was gathered by Edwin van der Sar.

And Bridges should have equalised when he raced onto Harte's curling cross but side-footed the wrong side of van der Sar's right-hand upright.

Harte also fired wide but Fulham hit back and Goldbaek jinked his way past Erik Bakke and Michael Duberry but dragged his shot disappointingly wide.

Fowler had his first real sniff of goal in the 74th minute and was only denied by a reaction parry from van der Sar. Substitute James Milner, 16, crossed but Fulham's Dutch keeper was equal to the England striker's header.

Fulham then fluffed two great chances to wrap up victory. First, Robinson pushed Boa Morte's shot into the path of Sean Davis, who wastefully fired over from six yards.

Then Malbranque had far more space than he realised and only produced an embarrassing air shot when the ball fell to him eight yards out. In the final minute, Davis' close-range effort hit the top of the bar.

Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Wome, Brevett, Goldbaek, Malbranque, Davis, Legwinski, Boa Morte, Djetou.

Subs Not Used: Inamoto, Taylor, Knight, Stolcers, Willock.

Booked: Legwinski, Davis, Wome.

Goals: Djetou 10.

Robinson, Kelly, Woodgate, Duberry, Harte (Mills 73), Bakke, Okon, McPhail (Milner 57), Wilcox, Smith (Fowler 45), Bridges.

Subs Not Used: Martyn, Lucic.

Booked: Bakke, Fowler, Wilcox, Woodgate.

Att: 17,494 Ref: P Durkin (Dorset).
Source PA Sport by Alistair Grant
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