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Match Report - Middlesbrough 3 Fulham 2

last updated Sunday 20th November 2005, 10:51 PM
Pape Bouba Diop
Pape Bouba Diop scores his first of
the season but Fulham still go down

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink turned a personal nightmare into a fairytale to hand Middlesbrough a vital Barclays Premiership victory over Fulham.

The Dutchman was struggling until he blasted a 76th-minute shot into strike-partner Aiyegbeni Yakubu to level at 2-2 and then doubled the dose eight minutes later to snatch all three points with a fierce drive.

Boro looked to be heading for a second successive Premiership defeat when first Collins John and then Papa Bouba Diop put the visitors ahead.

But James Morrison's first league goal for the club kept them in it and paved the way for Hasselbaink's decisive contribution.

The Teessiders dominated possession for much of the game, but in the first half, simply could not find a way past the visitors.

However, they stepped up a gear after the break and although Fulham will feel aggrieved to have left empty-handed - particularly with claims of offside surrounding the second goal - the home side belatedly rediscovered their cutting edge.

Boro fans have become accustomed to their side's fixtures being televised live - today's game was their seventh home league game in succession to be shown in its entirety - and that perhaps explained the banks of empty seats at the Riverside Stadium as 27,599 braved a chilly afternoon.

Indeed, Steve McClaren's side will not kick off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon on Teesside for the first time this season until Manchester City arrive in the north-east on New Year's Eve.

Those who stayed away to watch on television may have done so hoping for a repeat of the 2-1 win over Arsenal or the 4-1 demolition of Manchester United; what they got instead was plenty of huff and puff, but little end result before the break.

Defender Franck Queudrue came closest to beating Fulham goalkeeper Tony Warner with a glancing header from Fabio Rochemback's 27th-minute corner, but Fulham striker John got the only goal of the opening 45 minutes with a superb ninth-minute volley.

There looked to be little on when the fit-again Sylvain Legwinski helped Niclas Jensen's throw-in into the penalty area, but the Liberian controlled it on his chest before spinning and sending a dipping left-foot volley over Mark Schwarzer's deputy Brad Jones and in off the post.

Boro enjoyed the better of the possession thereafter with Yakubu and Emanuel Pogatetz behind him exploiting the space down the left.

But with the lively Steed Malbranque and Tomasz Radzinski causing problems on the break and Brian McBride keeping Gareth Southgate and Chris Riggott busy, the visitors were giving as good as they got.

McClaren opted for a change of both personnel and system at the break when he withdrew Pogatetz and sent on Szilard Nemeth.

The newcomer lined up in the hole behind the front two as Queudrue and Stuart Parnaby were asked to play as orthodox full-backs in a flat back four, and he almost made his mark within seconds when he flashed a header wide from a Queudrue cross.

George Boateng was off-target with a long-range effort on 47 minutes as Boro tried desperately to establish a momentum, but McBride served warning of Fulham's enduring potency at the other ends within seconds when he warmed Jones' hands with a well-struck shot.

Queudrue sent a curling free-kick high over the bar on 51 minutes after Nemeth's progress had been rudely interrupted by Diop, and then provided the ammunition for Hasselbaink beyond the far post five minutes later only to see the Dutchman's goal-bound shot cannon into team-mate Riggott.

Yakubu headed wide from another Queudrue cross on 59 minutes, but the home side were handed a reprieve seconds later when McBride powered a header against the post from a Moritz Volz cross.

Boro took full advantage of their escape within in four minutes when Yakubu created space for himself on the left and crossed for the unmarked Morrison to control and fire past the helpless Warner.

Match Stats Boro Fulham
Goals 3 2
Possession 57% 43%
Goal attempts 20 8
On Target 7 4
Corners 9 4
Fouls 9 16
OffSides 6 2
Yellows 0 1
Reds 0 0
source: SkySport

However, they were back on terms for just six minutes when the towering figure of Diop climbed high above Queudrue to meet a John corner and power a header into the top corner.

The Teessiders could have been back on terms again with 16 minutes remaining when Yakubu again found space to cross to Hasselbaink at the near post, but his strike-partner's casual flick ended up in the side-netting.

But the Dutchman redeemed himself two minutes later when he got to Gareth Southgate's cross at the far post and drilled a shot against the prone Yakubu and into the net with the visitors appealing in vain for an offside flag.

And there was more to come when, with just six minutes remaining, Hasselbaink collected Nemeth's cross as Volz dallied and drilled the winner past Warner.

Middlesbrough Jones, Southgate, Riggott, Queudrue, Parnaby, Morrison, Boateng, Rochemback, Pogatetz (Nemeth 45), Yakubu, Hasselbaink (Doriva 86).
Subs Not Used: Maccarone, Bates, Knight.

Goals: Morrison 64, Yakubu 76, Hasselbaink 84.

Fulham Warner, Volz, Knight, Goma, Niclas Jensen, John (Helguson 78), Diop, Legwinski, Malbranque, Radzinski, McBride.
Subs Not Used: Batista, Rosenior, Rehman, Pearce.

Booked: Niclas Jensen (30,f).

John 9 (Volleyed left-footed into top-right of goal from left side of penalty area 12 yards out.)
Diop 70 (Headed goal into top-left of goal from centre of penalty area 12 yards out.)

Att: 27,599

Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).

Source SportingLife
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