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Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 21:57 GMT
Fulham overpower Baggies
Fulham's Steve Marlet holds off West Brom's Neil Clement
West Brom sank to a 10th Premiership away defeat
Fulham 3-0 West Brom

Fulham conjured up three goals in a devastating five-minute spell to ease their relegation fears and sink struggling West Brom into further trouble.

Louis Saha began the goalrush in the 72nd minute, Pierre Wome added a second with a spectacular free-kick and Steed Malbranque completed the scoring with a penalty.

The win lifted Fulham 12 points clear of the relegation zone and left West Brom, who face West Ham on Sunday, four points behind 17th-placed Bolton.

Initially Saha had looked the least likely striker to score, missing horribly on a couple of occasions in the opening half.

West Brom were just nervous in front of goal, with Lee Hughes, who has still yet to score a Premiership goal, the worst offender.

After Hughes had forced a save from Maik Taylor's palms, Saha should have tested Russell Hoult, but instead produced an embarrassing air-shot.

In the 19th minute West Brom threatened when Jason Koumas burst past Junichi Inamoto, Malbranque and Andy Melville, but his shot bounced across the face of goal.

Malbranque responded with a surge of his own, cutting the ball back to Saha, who again miscued.

However the ball reached Marlet, who rifled goalwards, only to see the ball rebound off Darren Moore's legs, while Inamoto sliced the follow-up attempt.

Saha was having one of those games, with his next contribution being to accidentally block Malbranque's shot.

Both sides had golden chances to take the lead just before half-time.

First, Hoult misjudged a bouncing ball and Marlet headed square for Sava.

He hooked the ball goalwards but Phil Gilchrist slid across his goalline to clear from under the crossbar.

Fulham's Junichi Inamoto tussles with West Brom's Ronnie Wallwork
Inamoto played his first league game in two months

Barely 60 seconds later, Koumas burst clear down the right and played Hughes clean through on goal.

But the forward hesitated when one-on-one with Taylor and the Fulham keeper blocked his effort.

Hughes showed a lack of confidence in front of goal again six minutes after the interval.

He raced onto Neil Clement's through-ball and beat the offside trap - but threw himself to the ground in the penalty area after the slightest contact with Abdeslam Ouaddou.

On 72 minutes Saha finally redeemed himself, as the French striker gave Fulham into the lead.

Gilchrist allowed the Frenchman to escape unmarked six yards out - and he raced onto Malbranque's chipped cross from the left and nodded home.

Wome then powered home a superb free kick and Malbranque claimed his eighth goal in six games from the penalty spot after Saha was brought down.


Fulham: Taylor, Finnan, Goma (Ouaddou 45), Melville, Wome, Marlet, Djetou, Inamoto, Malbranque (Stolcers 89), Sava, Saha.
Subs Not Used: Goldbaek, Herrera, Leacock.

Booked: Djetou.

West Brom: Hoult, Adam Chambers, Gregan, Moore, Gilchrist, Clement (Udeze 90), Wallwork, McInnes, Koumas, Dichio (Jordao 80), Hughes (Dobie 71).
Subs Not Used: Sigurdsson, Murphy.

Booked: Adam Chambers, Gregan.

Attendance: 15,799.

Referee: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's David Oates
"Relief for Fulham"
West Brom manager Gary Megson
"I thought we had the best chances"
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