Malbranque magic beats Spurs
By Andy Clarke. Last Updated: 30/10/04 4:48pm
Steed Malbranque produced a wonderful performance to inspire Fulham to a well-deserved 2-0 victory over a poor Tottenham side at Craven Cottage.
The French midfielder consistently split the visitors' defence with a fine array of passing and his skill on the ball was a constant menace to Spurs.
His measured pass with the outside of his right foot sent in Luis Boa Morte for the opener, before Boa Morte turned provider with a cross which Andy Cole headed in.
The Fulham strike duo were outstanding, in contrast to Spurs' attacking partnership of Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe.
Jacques Santini's side failed to test veteran keeper Mark Crossley, selected in preference to Edwin van der Sar in the Fulham goal, and their three chances all fell to Defoe and were all off target.
The England man has now failed to find the net in seven Premiership games since his blistering start to the season and too often he was left isolated as Keane dropped deep into midfield.
Fulham had made the brighter start to the game, with Collins John heading narrowly wide from Malbranque's smartly clipped free-kick, and it was no great surprise when they took the lead after 33 minutes.
Malbranque slipped a delightful ball into the path of Boa Morte, and he swept a left-footed shot first-time beyond Paul Robinson into the far corner for his fourth goal of the season.
John had another scoring opportunity for Fulham before the break, heading into Robinson's arms from Moritz Volz's cross, while Volz failed to pick out the unmarked Boa Morte after more magic from Malbranque set him free on the right edge of the penalty area.
Papa Bouba Diop then inexplicably blasted high over the crossbar from 10 yards having been set up by the tireless Cole.
At the other end, Defoe's shot on the turn after a clever through ball from Pedro Mendes drifted across the face of Crossley's goal and six yards wide.
Fulham sensed the match was theirs for the taking as they came out fired up for the second half, and Tottenham struggled to cope with the lightning attacks set up by Malbranque and Boa Morte.
A second goal was always likely to be decisive and it came when Cole's backheel sent Boa Morte into the area and his cross from the byline was headed in by his strike partner.
Cole almost grabbed a second when he was played in by another astute Malbranque pass, but his attempted chip was swatted away by Robinson.
Defoe could have scored a consolation for Spurs in stoppage time, but his shot from Fredi Kanoute's cut-back was deflected into the side-netting.
Another day to forget for Spurs, who have scored only twice in seven Premiership outings, but a thoroughly deserved victory for Fulham to end a run of three consecutive league defeats.
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|Team Name||Fulham||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||4||0|
|Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||4||4|
|Total Fouls Conceded||12||10|
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Ham United||32||43|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||33||36|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||33||26|