Sunday 14 October 2001, 3:00pm at Villa Park, Birmingham
Barclays Premier League
Aston Villa
2
Vassell 50'; Taylor 61'
Fulham FC
Fulham
0
Fulham were defeated 2-0 by high-flying and unbeaten Aston Villa at Villa Park in Sunday's early kick-off.

50' Goal

Darius Vassell

61' Goal

Ian Taylor

49' Yellow Card

Mustapha Hadji Card was given for a foul

16' Substitution

Player was substituted due to an injury
On:Ian Taylor
Off:Hassan Kachloul

62' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Bosko Balaban
Off:Juan Pablo Angel

12' Yellow Card

Sean Davis Card was given for a foul

66' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Barry Hayles
Off:Steve Marlet

66' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Alain Goma
Off:Zat Knight

66' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Luis Boa Morte
Off:Sean Davis

0
15
30
45
60
75
90

Goals from England Under-21 striker Darius Vassell - his sixth of the campaign - and veteran midfielder Ian Taylor moved Villa to within three points of leaders Leeds with a game in hand.

It is fair to say that John Gregory's side have obtained the all so important knack of clocking up victories and points while seldom firing on all cylinders.

They were excellent in drawing with Manchester United and winning at Liverpool but, those two games apart, they have been grinding out wins - and this was another such scenario.

Gregory had received the Barclaycard manager of the month award before the game and must have wondered if the curse normally associated with picking up such an honour was about to strike after his side's first-half showing.

Villa struggled to move out of second gear and would have been in arrears had Marlet, an £11.5million capture from Lyon in August, been sharper in front of goal.

Fulham, with Steed Malbranque impressive in midfield, had no inhibitions as they attacked on a regular basis and with plenty of belief and confidence.

But, as in the previous home game with Blackburn, Villa were a different proposition in the second 45 minutes.

Vassell again showed why he is one of the best young strikers in the country with another deadly finish, while George Boateng was commanding in the centre of the park.

Steve Staunton was also a dominant figure in the centre of the Villa defence. Fulham could only reflect on what might have been and a day of frustration was summed up by Louis Saha's missed penalty in the 86th minute.

Fulham were the more incisive side for most of the first half and they would have been ahead at the interval had Marlet taken his chance.

The former Lyon striker found himself with a clear run at goal in the 11th minute after racing onto a pass from Malbranque.

But Villa keeper Peter Schmeichel was not even tested as the French international drove his left-footed shot into the side netting. Marlet had another golden opportunity in the 28th minute when he seized onto a right-wing centre from Steve Finnan.

But he failed to make a full contact on his header and, although Schmeichel saved away to his right, he should have been given no chance had Marlet connected properly.

Fulham knocked the ball around with great confidence and Gregory's pre-match declaration that Fulham only know how to play one way - to attack - was proving correct.

Villa struggled to find any cohesion in the first 45 minutes and Edwin Van Der Sar did not have to make a notable save in that period.

The home side's best effort came from Boateng, who turned and twisted on the edge of the box before sending a low shot into the side netting.

Vassell made a good break from midfield, but then went for personal glory when there were players better placed and he screwed his shot across goal.

But Villa needed only five minutes of the second period to break the deadlock via a clinical piece of finishing from Vassell.

Lee Hendrie found Mustapha Hadji in space on the right and Fulham defender Zat Knight seemed to be ball-watching as the Moroccan sent over a low centre.

Vassell needed no second invitation and his first-time flick deflected the ball wide of van der Sar into the far corner of the net.

As in the previous home game against Blackburn, Villa were a different outfit in the second period and the industrious Boateng was only just off target with a close-range header.

But just after the hour mark Taylor marked his comeback with the kind of goal that has been his trademark in seven years of sterling service for Villa.

He made a typical run into the box to get on the end of a pass from Angel before driving the ball past van der Sar.

That looked like being the end of the contest but in the 86th minute Fulham were handed a life-line when Staunton brought down Luis Boa Morte in the penalty area.

Up stepped Saha but he could only hold his head in his hands as he sent the penalty wide.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Sunday 14 October 2001
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Attendance: 28,579

Referee: Paul Durkin

Aston Villa

Line-up: Schmeichel; Staunton, Alpay, Boateng, Wright; Hendrie, Stone, Kachloul (Taylor 16'), Hadji; Vassell, Angel (Balaban 62')

Unused substitutes: Enckelman, Barry, Ginola

Fulham

Line-up: Van der Sar; Finnan, Knight (Goma 66'), Melville, Brevett; Malbranque, Legwinski, Davis (Boa Morte 66'), Collins; Marlet (Hayles 66'), Saha

Unused substitutes: Taylor, Clark

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Leeds United 8 18
2 Arsenal 8 17
3 Manchester United 8 17
4 Aston Villa 7 15
5 Newcastle United 8 14
6 Chelsea 7 13
7 Liverpool 7 13
8 Blackburn Rovers 9 12
9 Bolton Wanderers 9 12
10 Sunderland 9 12
11 Everton 8 11
12 Charlton Athletic 7 9
13 Tottenham Hotspur 8 8
14 Middlesbrough 9 8
15 Fulham 8 7
16 Ipswich Town 8 6
17 Southampton 7 6
18 Derby County 7 5
19 West Ham United 7 5
20 Leicester City 9 5
Aston Villa (4-4-2)
  • Peter Schmeichel
  • Steve Staunton
  • Özalan Alpay
  • 6George Boateng
  • 25Alan Wright
  • 7Lee Hendrie
  • Steve Stone
  • Hassan Kachloul
  • Mustapha Hadji
  • 13Darius Vassell
  • 9Juan Pablo Angel
Substitutes
  • 31Peter Enckelman
  • Ian Taylor
  • 6Gareth Barry
  • Bosko Balaban
  • David Ginola
Fulham (4-4-2)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 2Steve Finnan
  • 16Zat Knight
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 3Rufus Brevett
  • 14Steed Malbranque
  • 18Sylvain Legwinski
  • 23Sean Davis
  • 10John Collins
  • 7Steve Marlet
  • 20Louis Saha
Substitutes
  • 12Maik Taylor
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 8Lee Clark
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 15Barry Hayles