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Saturday, 12 January, 2002, 16:58 GMT
Marlet on the mark
Steve Marlet slides in for Fulham's winner
Marlet tucks Fulham's winner under Crossley
Fulham 2-1 Middlesbrough
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Goals from Louis Saha and Steve Marlet deservedly gave Fulham the points at Craven Cottage.

Middlesbrough went in front through an early Colin Cooper goal but from then on were always second best.

  Key incidents
8 mins: Cooper heads Boro in front
40 mins: Saha dives in for equaliser
45 mins: Steve Marlet puts Fulham 2-1 up

Saha equalised after 40 minutes with a fine diving header, before his French compatriot Marlet stole in in first half injury-time to give Jean Tigana's men the lead.

An uninspired 'Boro could offer little in return and could count themselves fortunate not to ship further goals.

Both sides made a confident start with quick passing moves - and struggling 'Boro raced into a surprise lead after just eight minutes.

Carlos Marinelli curled a hopeful free-kick to the far post and Edwin van der Sar inexplicably left the ball to go - allowing Cooper to nod the ball into the net.

Middlesbrough celebrate Colin Cooper's opener
'Boro celebrate Cooper's opener
Fulham attempted to hit back when Steed Malbranque slipped a great pass through to Marlet.

Boro keeper Mark Crossley deflected the Frenchman's shot skywards and Barry Hayles headed the loose ball just over the crossbar.

The equaliser the home side deserved finally arrived in the 40th minute when Saha rocketed a diving header past Crossley from a precise Malbranque free-kick.

Their attitude, determination and quality were excellent and they are very disappointed not to come away with anything
Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren
And it got even better for Fulham in first-half stoppage time.

Saha's poked ball into the box was deflected into the path of Marlet, who cleverly tucked it under Crossley.

At the start of the second period, Marlet went close again, flashing a header a yard wide of Crossley's goal as the Cottagers tried to extend their lead.

Noel Whelan is tackled by Steed Malbranque
Whelan is tackled by Malbranque
Tigana's side went agonisingly close to establishing a two-goal cushion in the 63rd minute.

Saha's towering header was deflected goalwards by Marlet but Robbie Mustoe awkwardly blocked on his goal-line and the ball was scrambled clear.

Play switched to the opposite goalmouth, where Noel Whelan skinned Andy Melville but dragged his angled shot a foot wide of the far post.

t was a difficult start and an unfortunate goal, but we reacted well and then in the second half we were strong and could have scored more
Fulham assistant manager Christian Damiano
At the death, Malbranque lashed in a shot which Crossley did well to tip over the bar.

Fulham nerves were jangling when the fourth official indicated there would be four minutes of injury-time.

'Boro won a late corner and piled into the box - but substitute Dean Windass's header went wide of Van der Sar's goal.

Van der Sar, Finnan, Brevett, Melville, Goma, Collins, Malbranque, Legwinski (Saha 36), Davis, Marlet, Hayles (Knight 73).
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Harley, Stolcers. Booked: Hayles.
Goals: Saha 40, Marlet 45.

Crossley, Stockdale, Cooper, Southgate, Festa, Ince, Mustoe, Greening (Windass 67), Marinelli (Nemeth 78), Whelan, Ricard (Stamp 50).
Subs Not Used: Gavin, Jones.
Booked: Ince, Windass.
Goals: Cooper 8.

Attendance: 18,975

Referee: M Dean (The Wirral).

BBC Sport's Simon Mann
"Fulham could have scored more"
Fulham's Andy Melville
"We showed character to come back"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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