Saturday 20 April 2002, 3:00pm at Elland Road, Leeds
Barclays Premier League
Leeds United
0
Fulham FC
Fulham
1
Malbranque 52'
Steed Malbranque ended 10 weeks of misery for Fulham by firing home the goal which should guarantee Jean Tigana's side Premiership football for next season.

61' Yellow Card

Lee Bowyer Card was given for a foul

81' Yellow Card

Dominic Matteo Card was given for a foul

52' Goal

Steed Malbranque

3' Yellow Card

Alain Goma Card was given for a foul

45' Yellow Card

Edwin Van der Sar Card was given for a foul

83' Yellow Card

Sylvain Legwinski Card was given for a foul

9' Substitution

Player was substituted due to an injury
On:Abdeslam Ouaddou
Off:Luis Boa Morte

77' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Barry Hayles
Off:Louis Saha

87' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Bjarne Goldbaek
Off:Sean Davis

0
15
30
45
60
75
90

It was a crisp 52nd-minute finish which also doused the flickering flame of Leeds' Champions League hopes and the potential £20million windfall which comes with it.

February 9 was the date of Fulham's last league victory, following which they have endured a harrowing run of seven defeats and two draws which placed their top-flight future on the line.

But Fulham have now hit the magical 40-point barrier to move seven clear of Ipswich who appear doomed to join Derby and Leicester back in Division One as the Tractor Boys still have to play title-chasers Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool in three of their final four matches.

It was a deserved victory as David O'Leary's players laboured through agame as if the end of the season was already upon them, despite the Irishman's claim there was still plenty for his side to play for.

With the threat of Intertoto Cup football and a mid-July start to next season dispelled Sunday courtesy of Arsenal and Chelsea reaching the FA Cup final, it appeared as if thoughts had already turned to either the World Cup or some summer sunshine in a far away isle.

Ahead of kick off, Champions League football was still a possibility for Leeds as they trailed Newcastle by four points, albeit with the Magpies having a game in hand.

By the end of the 90 minutes, though, such an enticing prospect had been blown away following a listless Leeds performance, in combination with the Magpies' 3-0 romp over Charlton.

The events of such a tumultuous season finally appeared to have caught up with Leeds, who were without leading 16-goal scorer Mark Viduka after the Australian sustained a twisted ankle towards the end of training on Friday.

It allowed O'Leary to start with the two Robbies - Keane and Fowler - up front for the first time since the latter's £11million arrival from Liverpool nearly five months ago.

Leeds began, though, as if Viduka was still on the pitch as they pumped long balls forward which the burly striker would normally seize upon before bringing his team-mates into play.

Once Leeds cottoned on such a tactic was not going to work on this occasion, they then started to control the game, allowing Fulham limited time and space with which to work the ball and so even fewer opportunities. Leeds did have the ball in the back of the net midway through the half, with Fowler bundling home from close range, only for referee Rob Styles to deny the 27-year-old his 13th goal in Leeds colours due to a Lee Bowyer foul on Edwin van der Sar.

Keane, as he has often done in the past, was then guilty of wasting a superb one-on-one opportunity after being sent clear by Fowler.

With only Edwin van der Sar to beat the Republic of Ireland international flicked his shot past the advancing Dutchman, but more importantly, a yard beyond the woodwork.

Minutes before the break Leeds should have taken the lead when Alan Smith picked out Keane at the far post from the left wing, allowing the impish forward to cushion a header back across the face of the goal.

A stooping Fowler then looked poised to score, but van der Sar was on hand to save the close-range header low down at the foot of his right-hand post.

Fulham had barely seen the whites of Nigel Martyn's eyes in the first half, other than Louis Saha driving in a shot from just inside the edge of the area following a one-two with Sean Davis.

But they found the willpower to apply the pressure at the start of the second period and gained their rewards as Leeds made a hash of clearing their lines from a corner in the 52nd minute. Malbranque was on hand to apply a crisp finish, driving an angled 15-yard shot into Martyn's bottom left corner for his 10th goal of the season since his 4million summer move from Lyon.

Leeds, though, still had the chances to steal a point as Keane and Eirik Bakke were within a whisker of turning home a drive through the six-yard box from Alan Smith on the hour.

Moments later, Danny Mills then picked out Keane at the far post with aright-wing cross courtesy of a Steve Finnan slip.

As Finnan regained his feet, Keane fed the ball back to the awaiting Fowler, only for him to sky his shot over the bar from 10 yards, and with it Leeds' hopes of playing alongside Europe's elite.

While Fulham can tentatively start to look forward to next season in the Premier League, for O'Leary a summer of change and a major squad overhaul now beckons as he faces limited transfer funding due to another campaign of UEFA Cup football.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Saturday 20 April 2002
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Elland Road, Leeds
Attendance: 39,811

Referee: Rob Styles

Leeds United

Line-up: Martyn; Mills, Ferdinand, Matteo, Harte; Smith, Batty, Bowyer, Bakke; Fowler, Keane

Unused substitutes: Robinson, Hay, Kelly, Wilcox, Johnson

Fulham

Line-up: Van der Sar; Finnan, Goma, Melville, Brevett; Malbranque, Davis (Goldbaek 87'), Legwinski, Boa Morte (Ouaddou 9'); Saha (Hayles 77'), Marlet

Unused substitutes: Taylor, Knight

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Liverpool 35 74
2 Manchester United 35 73
3 Arsenal 33 72
4 Newcastle United 35 67
5 Chelsea 36 61
6 Leeds United 36 60
7 West Ham United 35 50
8 Tottenham Hotspur 36 47
9 Middlesbrough 35 45
10 Aston Villa 36 44
11 Everton 36 43
12 Southampton 36 42
13 Charlton Athletic 36 42
14 Fulham 35 40
15 Bolton Wanderers 35 40
16 Blackburn Rovers 34 39
17 Sunderland 36 38
18 Ipswich Town 34 33
19 Derby County 36 29
20 Leicester City 36 24
Leeds United (4-4-2)
  • 25Nigel Martyn
  • 18Danny Mills
  • 5Rio Ferdinand
  • Dominic Matteo
  • 23Ian Harte
  • 17Alan Smith
  • David Batty
  • 8Lee Bowyer
  • Eirik Bakke
  • Robbie Fowler
  • 20Robbie Keane
Substitutes
  • 1Paul Robinson
  • Danny Hay
  • 2Gary Kelly
  • Jason Wilcox
  • 20Seth Johnson
Fulham (4-4-2)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 2Steve Finnan
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 3Rufus Brevett
  • 14Steed Malbranque
  • 23Sean Davis
  • 18Sylvain Legwinski
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 20Louis Saha
  • 7Steve Marlet
Substitutes
  • 12Maik Taylor
  • 16Zat Knight
  • 25Abdeslam Ouaddou
  • 19Bjarne Goldbaek
  • 15Barry Hayles