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Sunday, February 14, 1999 Published at 16:12 GMT


Cole leaves Fulham cold

Neil Smith launches a ball towards the United goal

Man Utd 1-0 Fulham

A 25th-minute Andy Cole strike sent Fulham out of the FA Cup in a hard fought fifth round tie at Old Trafford.

The first-half goal proved the only difference between the two sides in a game that could have gone either way.


Andy Cole puts United through to the quarter-finals (BBC Radio 5 Live)
The visitors missed a good opportunity to equalise in the second half when John Salako hit an easy chance from five yards straight back to Peter Schmeichal.

But it was Fulham keeper Maik Taylor who earned most credit for a number of fine saves to keep the match in the balance.

The game started scrappily with United clearly missing their anchorman Roy Keane in midfield.

Fulham, full of commitment, initially looked the better side with ex-England international Salako causing the home side problems on the left.

Fulham, clearly hoping to test Jaap Stam and Henning Berg in defence played a number of early high balls into the United area and although Dirk Lehmann frequently managed to connect he lacked the power and accuracy to find the United net.

With rain drizzling constantly through the match - the Old Trafford pitch was typically greasy with both side's having difficulty staying upright.

Early on United clearly struggled to find any width in their play with Fulham quickly closing down the three-pronged attack of Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.


[ image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer congratulates Andy Cole]
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer congratulates Andy Cole
On 28 minutes, Fulham were awarded a free-kick, but the United defence moved up to catch Lehmann offside.

From the clearance, Solskjaer broke quickly down the left, floating a delicate cross into the Fulham area that was half-cleared by Welsh international Chris Coleman.

The Fulham fans were clearly relieved but almost immediately Solkjaer broke again - this time Finding Cole who side-footed past Maik Taylor to put the home side ahead.

If Fulham initially looked shocked - it did not last long with Lehmann finding a long ball inside the United area before slipping after a challenge from Gary Neville.

The Fulham fans screamed for penalty but the referee was ideally placed to wave play on.

United stay on top

United started where they left off in the second half - with all the pressure going their way.

Fulham were finding it difficult to find their own players up front and it took a blocked Steve Hayward free-kick to spark the visiting fans back into song.

The free-kick was awarded after Barry Hayles was pulled down and although Hayward's shot was blocked - the clearance found Finnan on the right who hit a glorious shot straight at Schmeichal.


[ image: Smith fight off a challenge from Cole]
Smith fight off a challenge from Cole
With little ball finding Lehmann up front - Fulham boss Kevin Keegan replaced the striker with Kevin Betsy on 59 minutes.

United then followed suit - with Jesper Blomqvist replacing Solskjaer.

Moments later Fulham missed their best chance of the match.

Finnan hit a fine shot to the right of Schmeichal who could only beat it away.

The ball fell to straight to Salako who only had to lift it - but hit it straight back to the United keeper who held the ball well.

It signalled the end of the match for Salako, who was replaced by Paul Trollope on 75 minutes.

United then put together perhaps the best move of the game - with Gary Neville running well off the ball to launch a high cross into the Fulham box.

Cole jumped high and headed hard towards the goal - but Taylor again held the ball well for the visitors.

United certainly looked nervous, however, with the tie far from sewn up.

But the home side continued to pressurise Fulham with Taylor again making a superb save - touching over the crossbar after Yorke chested and volleyed off a Philippe Neville cross.

Both sides then made two substitutions - Gus Uhlenbeek for Wayne Collins and Ronny Johnsen for Andy Cole - but United were far from finished.

Taylor reacted quickly to punt away a good chance from David Beckham before saving a Gary Neville shot at the near post.

Teams:

Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Stam, Berg, Irwin, Beckham, Butt, P. Neville, Yorke, Cole, Solskjaer. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Johnsen, Blomqvist, Greening, May.

Fulham: Taylor, Finnan, Brevett, Coleman, Symons, Hayward, Smith, Collins, Salako, Lehmann, Hayles. Subs: Brazier, Arendse, Trollope, Uhlenbeek, Betsy.

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)



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