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  Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 19:49 GMT 20:49 UK
Fulham stun Split
Hadjuk Split's Hrvoje Vejic clears the ball from Fulham's Steve Marlet
Steve Marlet led the line for Fulham in Split
Hadjuk Split 0-1 Fulham

A Steed Malbranque strike early in the second half gave Fulham a magnificent Uefa Cup first-round victory over Hadjuk Split in Croatia.

The Frenchman finished clinically in the 51st minute to win the first leg after Fulham had absorbed some early pressure from the hosts.

With striker Louis Saha and winger Luis Boa Morte out through injury, coach Jean Tigana could have been excused for looking for a draw.

In the early stages that looked Fulham's best hope as Split pushed forward, and Vlatko Dolonga went close with a header inside two minutes.

This is a big, very important result
Fulham manager Jean Tigana

Edwin van der Sar was in fine form for the Cottagers, and the Dutch keeper pulled off an excellent save in the 11th minute from Mato Neretljak.

A Sylvain Legwinski chance came and went for the Premiership side before Van der Sar pulled off a fantastic stop in the 29th minute from a Darijo Srna header.

Gradually Fulham gained a foothold in the match and, after making it to half-time, they came out the stronger side after the break.

It was no great surprise when the English side went ahead.

After 51 minutes, Malbranque found space on the edge of the box and fired into the bottom corner with his left foot.

Split hit back with a brief period of pressure but Fulham always looked dangerous on the break.

Steve Marlet and Malbranque both had half-chances to extend the lead around the 70th minute.

The travelling Fulham fans welcomed substitute Lee Clarke when he made his first appearance of the season with 10 minutes remaining.

And as the game moved towards its conclusion it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score.

There was a late scare in the 83rd minute when a swerving cross was defelcted just past Van der Sar's left-hand post by Bule.

But once that chance had gone there was little doubt about the result, and the home fans made their displeasure obvious in the closing moments.

Hajduk Split: Pletikosa, Djolonga, Vejic, Neretljak, Vukovic, Andric, Srna, Racunica, Miladin, Carevic, Deranja.
Subs: Runje, Butorovic, Piric, Radeljic, Bule, Brgles, Gudelj.

Fulham: Van der Sar, Brevett, Goma, Ouaddou, Melville, Inamoto, Davis, Malbranque, Legwinski, Hayles, Marlet.
Subs: Taylor, Clark, Sava, Collins, Knight, Wome, Stolcers.

Referee: Fernando Mendez (Spain).

BBC Five Live's John Murray
"A proud night for Fulham"
Fulham's Barry Hayles
"It was a very physical game"
Fulham skipper Andy Melville
"It was a great achievement"

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19 Sep 02 | Football
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