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Fulham 2 Southampton 2 - Match Report

last updated Saturday 15th March 2003, 7:19 PM
Fulham 2 Southampton 2
Michael Svensson went from villain to hero and grabbed a fairytale injury-time equaliser for Southampton against Fulham at Loftus Road today.

The Swede, who earlier scored an own-goal, nodded into an empty net after goalkeeper Antti Niemi - up for a corner - incredibly thundered a volley against the angle of post and bar.

Earlier, flying Finn Niemi had pulled off stunning saves from Steve Marlet, twice throwing himself across his goal to touch the ball round the post.
Fulham striker Louis Saha
Fulham striker Louis Saha continued his goal scoring run with his third in three games.
Previous Louis Saha Morte Stories

But he was helpless two minutes before the interval when Louis Saha connected with a tidy cross from man-of-the-match Steed Malbranque and dispatched a sweet volley into the bottom corner.

Jason Dodd almost scored a comedy own-goal just after the interval, but Svensson did succeed in putting through his own net in the 50th minute.

Saha crossed from the left and the Swede could only sidefoot into the wrong net from two yards.

Goal machine James Beattie gave Saints hope when he produced a towering header for the 20th goal of his quite superb season with nine minutes left.

And Saints completed a stirring comeback in the third minute of stoppage time when Svensson headed home, sparking joyous scenes among the 3,000-strong travelling support.

Goalkeeper Martin Herrera had made his full Fulham debut due to Edwin van der Sar's broken foot and Maik Taylor's suspension.

For the Saints, England Under-21 captain David Prutton returned after being banned from last weekend's 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final victory against Wolves.

The first genuine goalscoring opportunity arrived in the 21st minute, when Malbranque cut in from the right, skinned England left-back Wayne Bridge and crossed to the far post.

Marlet met the delivery unopposed and Niemi threw himself to his right to turn the Frenchman's header round his right-hand post.

Niemi then made a stunning point-blank save from Marlet as the half-hour neared.

Malbranque was again the provider, dinking a precise ball into the box for Marlet to chest down, shrug off Claus Lundekvam and scoop the ball goalwards.

Niemi stuck out his left glove and deflected the ball just beyond the upright.

Matt Oakley had two cracks at goal in the 36th minute. First, he sent a sweet volley soaring over the top from 20 yards.

And then he lifted the ball over an open goal from 30 yards after Herrera had again raced from his area to challenge Beattie.

Saints were reliant on Niemi's heroics - but the Scandinavian shot-stopper could do nothing to keep out Saha's 43rd-minute strike.

Malbranque crossed from the right and Saha span to connect with a fine right-foot volley which whistled inside Niemi's near post from 14 yards.

Fulham boss Jean Tigana threw on Junichi Inamoto for Pierre Wome at half-time, with Malbranque swopping from the right flank to the left.

Match Stats Fulham Southampton
Goal attempts 3 12
On Target 3 5
Woodwork 0 1
Offsides 2 5
Corners 3 7
Fouls 8 11
Yellows 1 0
Reds 0 0
source: www.sportinglife.com
Dodd went close to scoring a candidate for own-goal of the season 60 seconds after the interval.

His lofted, 25-yard back-pass almost bounced over Niemi, aware he could not handle the ball, who back-pedalled and leapt to head it against his crossbar.

But it only four more minutes for the Saints to put through their own net and send Fulham storming into a 2-0 lead.

Malbranque robbed Fabrice Fernandes on the left wing and slipped the ball to Saha, who left Lundekvam for dead and drilled the ball across the face on goal, aiming for Marlet.

Svensson intercepted but was only able to sidefoot the ball into his own net from two yards.

The goal had a deflating effect on the game, with chances at either end at a premium during the next 20 minutes.

Southampton seized a lifeline with nine minutes left. Beattie towered above Sylvain Legwinski to meet Oakley's left-wing cross at the far post and head home.

And Southampton grabbed a fairytale injury-time leveller, with keeper Niemi - up for a corner - incredibly volleying against the angle of post and bar.

The ball rebounded into the goalmouth and Svensson redeemed himself for his own goal with a simple header netting an equaliser.

Fulham: Herrera, Ouaddou, Melville, Goma, Harley, Malbranque, Djetou, Legwinski, Wome (Inamoto 45), Marlet, Saha, Inamoto (Stolcers 84).

Subs Not Used: Thompson, Sava, Leacock.

Booked: Wome(33, d).

Goals: Saha 44, Michael Svensson 52 og.

Southampton: Niemi, Dodd (Higginbotham 69), Lundekvam, Michael Svensson, Bridge, Oakley, Prutton (Davies 79), Fernandes (Tessem 56), Telfer, Beattie, Ormerod.

Subs Not Used: Jones, Williams.

Goals: Beattie 81, Michael Svensson 90.

Att: 18,031

Ref: P Durkin (Dorset).
Source PA Sport by Alistair Grant
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