Friday 26 December 2003, 3:00pm at Loftus Road, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Saha 19', (pen) 63'

19' Goal

Louis Saha

63' Penalty

Louis Saha

23' Substitution

Player was substituted due to an injury
On:Jon Harley
Off:Jerome Bonnissel

83' Yellow Card

Michael Svensson Card was given for a foul

85' Yellow Card

David Prutton Card was given for a foul

51' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Kevin Phillips
Off:Brett Ormerod

73' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Agustin Delgado
Off:Neil McCann

Louis Saha scored both goals for Fulham in a comfortable victory over fellow European hopefuls Southampton, who were completely outplayed at Loftus Road.

Saha struck in the 19th minute before clinching victory with a 62nd-minute penalty to take his tally to 12 for the season and leave Fulham fans wonderinghow much longer their club can resist the reported advances of the BarclaycardPremiership champions. 

Victory gave Fulham only their fourth win in their last 11 league matches, lifting them back above the Saints in the table, and brought Southampton'sthree-match winning league run to a shuddering halt in a fixture they havefailed to win for 56 years. But Saha's scintillating performance, which completely overshadowed an uncharacteristically quiet James Beattie, was the perfect advertisement of histalents to Manchester United, a club he claims playing for would be "a dream". 

This was a clash of two sides with lofty ambitions, but only the trickery shown by Saha and his provider Steed Malbranque lifted the match above adisappointing show of misplaced passing and niggly tackles. Marian Pahars was the surprise omission from Gordon Strachan's squad.  The Latvian forward is just back from a long-term injury and was expected to takehis place in an unchanged line-up after scoring against Portsmouth. In defence, Danny Higginbotham continued to deputise for the absent Graeme Le Saux, while midfielder Rory Delap failed to recover from a twisted ankle intime. Sean Davis missed out with a hamstring injury for Fulham, who also had Mark Pembridge absent with a calf injury. There were places at the back for Alain Goma and Martin Djetou with Jon Harley and Andy Melville dropping to the bench. Back-to-back defeats to Leeds and Chelsea had done nothing to dent Fulham's confidence, and they made the early running, forcing three quick corners. 

Neil McCann and Michael Svensson both had efforts fly yards wide at the other end for the visitors shortly afterwards. Saha had looked largely anonymous until he found himself in the clear on 19 minutes. Malbranque played a neat one-two with Lee Clark which foxed a static visiting defence and the Frenchman then played in his compatriot, who made no mistakewith a left-foot finish into the far corner. He should have doubled the home side's lead moments later when Luis Boa Morte's low centre found him in space again, but this time Saha failed to makethe right contact and the chance went begging. 

Suddenly it was all Fulham, and Clark warmed Edwin van der Sar's hands with a 25-yard shot from Saha's knock-down. Strachan declined to make changes after the break, but Fulham were immediately back into their stride as the rain began to fall, Saha hitting a 20-yard effortwide of the far post. He was in again moments later, shrugging off the weak challenge of Dodd, but his dangerous pull-back eluded everyone and flashed harmlessly across the faceof goal. Strachan had seen enough and introduced Kevin Philips at the expense of a quiet Brett Ormerod, but Saints were chasing shadows. When Malbranque found Saha with a stunning 30-yard pass and the Frenchman controlled with his chest before striking a right-foot volley, everyone insideLoftus Road expected a second goal, but Finnish international Antti Niemi pulledoff a spectacular save, and Junichi Inamoto blasted the rebound over. Southampton finally tested Van der Sar on the hour-mark, Phillips letting fly from 25 yards, but the Dutchman saved low at his far post.  Moments later refereeDermot Gallagher pointed to the spot when Boa Morte was tripped by ChrisMarsden. Saha stepped up and fired his penalty down the middle, finding the target after the ball ricocheted through Niemi's legs. Malbranque deserved a goal for his efforts having pulled the strings all afternoon, but he contrived to miss from three yards after Knight's header downfrom a corner, scooping the ball over the crossbar with an outstretched boot.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Friday 26 December 2003
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Loftus Road, London
Attendance: 16,767

Referee: Dermot Gallagher


Line-up: Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Goma, Bonnissel (Harley 23'); Malbranque, Clark, Inamoto, Djetou, Boa Morte; Saha

Unused substitutes: Crossley, Melville, Sava, Hayles


Line-up: Niemi; Dodd, Lundekvam, Svensson, Higginbotham; Prutton, Telfer, Marsden, McCann (Delgado 73'); Ormerod (Kevin Phillips 51'), Beattie

Unused substitutes: Blayney, Baird, Svensson

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Manchester United 18 43
2 Arsenal 18 42
3 Chelsea 18 39
4 Fulham 18 28
5 Charlton Athletic 18 27
6 Newcastle United 18 26
7 Southampton 18 26
8 Birmingham City 17 26
9 Liverpool 17 25
10 Bolton Wanderers 18 22
11 Middlesbrough 17 21
12 Aston Villa 18 21
13 Manchester City 18 20
14 Everton 18 20
15 Portsmouth 18 19
16 Blackburn Rovers 18 18
17 Tottenham Hotspur 18 18
18 Leicester City 18 17
19 Leeds United 18 17
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 17 11
Fulham (4-5-1)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 2Moritz Volz
  • 16Zat Knight
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 18Jerome Bonnissel
  • 4Steed Malbranque
  • 10Lee Clark
  • 6Junichi Inamoto
  • 17Martin Djetou
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 8Louis Saha
  • 12Mark Crossley
  • 3Jon Harley
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 9Facundo Sava
  • 15Barry Hayles
Southampton (4-4-2)
  • 1Antti Niemi
  • 2Jason Dodd
  • 5Claus Lundekvam
  • 6Michael Svensson
  • 19Danny Higginbotham
  • 20David Prutton
  • Paul Telfer
  • Chris Marsden
  • Neil McCann
  • 10Brett Ormerod
  • 9James Beattie
  • Alan Blayney
  • 21Chris Baird
  • Anders Svensson
  • Agustin Delgado
  • 9Kevin Phillips