Sunday 2 December 2001, 3:00pm at Craven Cottage, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Fulham
0
Leeds United
0
Fulham's resolute and impressive defensive display meant that Robbie Fowler's Leeds debut proved an anti-climax, as the £11m striker hardly got a touch all afternoon.

18' Yellow Card

Sylvain Legwinski Card was given for a foul

78' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Sean Davis
Off:Sylvain Legwinski

26' Yellow Card

Alan Smith Card was given for a foul

33' Yellow Card

Seth Johnson Card was given for a foul

70' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Olivier Dacourt
Off:Harry Kewell

0
15
30
45
60
75
90
Robbie Fowler's debut proved an anti-climax as the £11million striker hardly got a touch and Leeds failed to claim the win which would have lifted them back into second place in the Barclaycard Premiership.

All eyes were naturally on Fowler following his surprise switch from Anfield at the end of last week. The omens were good too, because he scored on his Liverpool debut at Craven Cottage and also once bagged five goals here in a League Cup tie.

But Fowler's only noteworthy contribution came after 72 minutes when he unleashed a fierce drive from 25 yards which was comfortably saved by Fulham goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

Instead it was Jean Tigana's improving Fulham side who dominated, and – but for two fine saves by England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn and a goalline clearance from Gary Kelly - they would have taken all three points their efforts deserved.

Fulham's first good chance came after seven minutes when Luis Boa Morte played a neat one-two with Steed Malbranque down the right channel - but his low shot from the edge of the box lacked the power to trouble Martyn.

Fowler, who had chosen the number 27 shirt because the digits add up to his preferred number nine, was obviously keen to make an impression but was a little over-ambitious with his first shot after 12 minutes.

He picked up the ball just a few yards inside the Fulham half and tried to catch out van der Sar, who was just outside his six-yard box. But Fowler's effort never got airborne, and the big Dutchman easily gathered.

Kelly came to Leeds' rescue in the 14th minute with a vital goalline clearance to deny Boa Morte.

The striker, playing in a wide midfield role, went on a jinking run into the box and then slipped the ball past Martyn as he came off his line. But Kelly had read the situation well and was on hand to slide in and prevent a goal.

Boa Morte was proving to be a thorn in Leeds' side and he did well after half-an-hour to dispossess Ian Harte near the right corner flag. He tried to find Barry Hayles just inside the box, but Rio Ferdinand recovered to steer the ball back to Martyn.

Four minutes later Louis Saha cut in from the left and drilled in a stinging, low drive from 20 yards which Martyn saved before gathering the loose ball.

Malbranque was next to try his luck from the edge of the box after 41 minutes but he was off balance and blasted high and wide.

Fowler had half a chance to make an impression in first-half injury time but he failed to connect properly at the far post with Harry Kewell's deep cross from the right.

Fulham continued to dominate after the break, and their first good chance came from a Malbranque corner on the left after 51 minutes. Alain Goma rose highest in the box but directed his header wide.

Then six minutes later Martyn produced a flying save to keep his side in the game.

Fulham won a free-kick just outside the box in a central position after David Batty bundled over Boa Morte. John Collins whipped a curling shot around the wall, and Martyn flew to his right to push the ball behind for a corner.

Martyn saved Leeds again after 67 minutes. Malbranque took a free-kick on the right flank and delivered it deep to Goma who sent in a header which the goalkeeper clawed off his post.

Fowler came to life after 72 minutes, flashing in a fierce shot from 25 yards - but van der Sar was well placed to catch it. Then Alan Smith whipped in a low shot after 79 minutes, but again van der Sar was down smartly to save.

After 81 minutes Collins drove into the side-netting; then at the other end five minutes later Fowler tried with another weak effort to hook home a corner but failed to beat van der Sar.

The Fulham fans took the chance to chant "what a waste of money" as Fowler left the field at the end - and O'Leary will be looking for more from his new signing if Leeds are to fulfil the forward's prediction that his new team can overhaul his old one at the top of the Premiership.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Sunday 2 December 2001
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Attendance: 20,918

Referee: Graham Poll

Fulham

Line-up: Van der Sar; Finnan, Goma, Melville, Brevett; Malbranque, Legwinski (Davis 78'), Collins, Boa Morte; Hayles, Saha

Unused substitutes: Taylor, Ouaddou, Clark, Stolcers

Leeds United

Line-up: Martyn; Kelly, Ferdinand, Mills, Harte; Smith, Johnson, Batty, Kewell (Dacourt 70'); Fowler, Viduka

Unused substitutes: Robinson, Duberry, Wilcox, Keane

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Liverpool 13 29
2 Arsenal 14 26
3 Leeds United 14 25
4 Newcastle United 14 24
5 Chelsea 14 23
6 Aston Villa 14 23
7 Manchester United 14 21
8 Tottenham Hotspur 14 21
9 Everton 14 20
10 Bolton Wanderers 14 20
11 Blackburn Rovers 15 19
12 Fulham 14 19
13 Sunderland 15 19
14 Middlesbrough 15 19
15 Charlton Athletic 14 15
16 West Ham United 14 15
17 Leicester City 15 13
18 Southampton 14 10
19 Derby County 14 10
20 Ipswich Town 15 9
Fulham (4-4-2)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 2Steve Finnan
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 3Rufus Brevett
  • 14Steed Malbranque
  • 18Sylvain Legwinski
  • 10John Collins
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 15Barry Hayles
  • 20Louis Saha
Substitutes
  • 12Maik Taylor
  • 25Abdeslam Ouaddou
  • 8Lee Clark
  • 23Sean Davis
  • 40Andrejs Stolcers
Leeds United (4-4-2)
  • 25Nigel Martyn
  • 2Gary Kelly
  • 5Rio Ferdinand
  • 18Danny Mills
  • 23Ian Harte
  • 17Alan Smith
  • 20Seth Johnson
  • David Batty
  • 7Harry Kewell
  • Robbie Fowler
  • 36Mark Viduka
Substitutes
  • 1Paul Robinson
  • 5Michael Duberry
  • Jason Wilcox
  • 16Olivier Dacourt
  • 20Robbie Keane