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Fulham 3-0 Blackpool

3 April 11 14:23 GMT
By Mandeep Sanghera

Fulham striker Bobby Zamora helped his side move a step closer to Premier League safety with two goals against fellow relegation battlers Blackpool.

Zamora pounced on a misplaced James Beattie pass to race clear and power in a shot to put the Cottagers ahead.

He then headed in a Damien Duff free-kick to extend his side's lead.

Blackpool's threat was fleeting and, after Clint Dempsey's header hit the post, Brede Hangeland crossed for Dickson Etuhu to tap in Fulham's third.

The focus before the game may have been on the Michael Jackson statue being unveiled outside Craven Cottage by the home side's chairman Mohamed Al Fayed but it was points rather than personality tributes that took precedence when the game got under way.

And it was Fulham who deservedly came away with a win that lifted them to 10th, while Blackpool, who have now conceded a concerning 63 goals in the Premier League this season, remain precariously placed - a point and a place above the drop zone.

Zamora was key to his side's win as he built on recent substitute appearances to make his first start for the Cottagers since recovering from a broken leg suffered on 11 September last year against Wolves.

The striker nodded down a Carlos Salcido cross for Moussa Dembele and he laid the ball off to Duff, whose low left-foot shot was excellently palmed on to the post by keeper Richard Kingson as Fulham provided a sign of things to come.

The move epitomised the cool and composed style to the west London outfit's passing, with the playmaking skills of Danny Murphy and the tough-tackling of fellow midfielder Etuhu giving them the platform from which to launch their attacks.

A powerful 25-yard shot by Chris Baird was parried by Kingson and gathered at the second attempt before Fulham were rewarded for their dominance after 23 minutes.

Seasiders striker Beattie inadvertently released Zamora and he surged towards the Blackpool goal before hammering in a right-foot shot.

The home side doubled their advantage five minutes later when Duff picked himself up from being fouled by Stephen Crainey to whip in a free-kick that Zamora headed in from close range.

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway had spent the recent international break watching Spain beat the Czech Republic and taking in training sessions at La Liga clubs Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Getafe.

But there was little evidence of anything he had learnt in his side's play as he had to watch on with the Seasiders' passing wayward and their impact on the game worryingly lacking.

The visitors did raise themselves briefly before the break and a mistake from Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer, who might have been influenced by his lack of involvement, almost gave Blackpool a ray of hope.

Schwarzer was beaten to a long Craig Cathcart ball by the head of Tangerines striker Brett Ormerod, whose goalbound effort was nodded wide just in time by Baird.

Blackpool passed the ball with more assurance in the second half but were limited to an angled Beattie shot hitting the outside of the post in a rare strike on goal.

A wrong-footed Kingson did well to deny Fulham when he reacted quickly to keep out a deflected shot from Dempsey but it was not long before the keeper was again beaten.

Dempsey's header from Murphy's free-kick hit the post but the ball fell to Hangeland and he played the ball across for Etuhu to slot in.

Cathcart headed high and Gary Taylor-Fletcher slid a shot just wide as Blackpool failed to even grab a late consolation strike, while Fulham completed a fifth win in six home league games.

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