Monday 7 April 2003, 8:00pm at Loftus Road, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Fulham
0
Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers
4
Dunn (pen) 37'; Sükür 42', 54'; Duff 53'
Fulham slump to a hugely disappointing and uncharacteristic home defeat to Blackburn Rovers.

61' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Sylvain Legwinski
Off:Lee Clark

61' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Elvis Hammond
Off:Steed Malbranque

37' Penalty

David Dunn

42' Goal

Hakan Sükür

53' Goal

Damien Duff

54' Goal

Hakan Sükür

13' Yellow Card

Lucas Neill Card was given for a foul

38' Yellow Card

Craig Short Card was given for a foul

55' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Martin Taylor
Off:Lucas Neill

69' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Keith Gillespie
Off:Kerimoglou Tugay

90' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Corrado Grabbi
Off:Keith Gillespie

0
15
30
45
60
75
90

Tigana now has just six games left as boss and Gianluca Vialli, the bookmakers' favourite to become his successor, was in the Loftus Road directors'box to witness this humiliation at the hands of UEFA Cup hopefuls Blackburn.  

The former Chelsea and Watford manager's agent Athole Still has already confirmed his interest in the vacancy.  

But Fulham chief executive Bruce Langham, the man leading the club's recruitment drive, claimed he was not even aware of Vialli's presence just a few seats away from him.  

He said: "I didn't even know he was here tonight".

Tigana himself broke his silence on his axing, writing in the match programme:"I'm sad I won't be at Fulham next season.   

It's a difficult situation but one I have to accept."

On the field, Tigana's team were torn apart in chilly west London and loiter just seven points above the relegation zone ahead of a daunting run-in featuring games against Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, Chelsea, Everton and Charlton.  

Lee Clark, on his comeback after four months out with a torn calf, gave away a penalty for the 36th-minute opener when he somehow managed to handle David Dun"s flick-on twice.   

Dunn scored from the spot.  

Hakan Sukur hit his first Rovers goal with a cool finish three minutes before the break.  

Damien Duff rifled home five minutes after the interval and, just 60 seconds later, Sukur completed his brace with another polished effort.  

Fulham's players could perhaps be forgiven for lacking a little focus given the bizarre situation of their manager effectively being sacked but being asked to remain until his contract expires on June 30.  

Steve Finnan had returned at right-back for the home side after a month out with a fractured rib, while Rovers' Lucas Neill was back after a two-game ban.  

Vialli was sitting alongside his close friend Ray Wilkins and enjoying an animated chat with England assistant coach Tord Grip as the game kicked off.  

Louis Saha had a pot shot as the 20-minute mark passed but he was again off target from distance.  Steed Malbranque, so often Fulham's most dangerous player, went close on the half hour.  

Steve Marlet expertly squared to him 20 yards out and his swerving first-timestrike was parried by the diving Brad Friedel.  

Malbranque turned Craig Short inside-out with a jinking run two minutes laterbut he could not get his left boot round the ball enough to keep his shot ontarget.  But Rovers upped their game and went into the lead with 36 minutes on theclock.  

Andy Cole snapped up a loose ball and fired goalwards, only for Martin Djetouto make a sensational goal-line block, deflecting Cole's effort onto his bar.  

But Fulham failed to complete their clearance and Garry Flitcroft hooked across back into the danger zone, where Clark was distracted by Dunn's flick-onand handled twice.  

Referee Graham Poll pointed to the penalty spot and Dunn sent Maik Taylor thewrong way to put Graeme Souness' side 1-0 up.  

And the Lancastrians doubled their lead six minutes later when Sukur latchedonto Neill's far post cross, side-stepped Finnan's challenge and coolly slottedhome from six yards.  

Fulham centre-back Zat Knight prevented Sukur adding a second five minutesafter the interval when he blocked the Turk's eight-yard shot.  

But Rovers' third goal arrived two minutes later anyway when Cole latched ontoa long punt up field and cleverly held off Finnan to square for Duff.  

He raced goalwards and smacked the ball under Taylor from 10 yards.  

Fulham were in tatters at the back and three became four just 60 seconds laterwhen Cole prodded the ball through to Sukur - who rounded Finnan yet again - and showed nerves of steel to side-foot into the bottom corner.  Malbranque tried to restore a little pride with a determined run and shot but Friedel saved comfortably.  

Djetou produced a stinging shot as the game entered its final minutes butFriedel watched it all the way and held on.  Malbranque was uncharacteristically wasteful when he met Sylvain Legwinski'scross with three minutes left.   

The Frenchman fired into row Z.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Monday 7 April 2003
Kick-off: 8:00pm

Venue: Loftus Road, London
Attendance: 14,017

Referee: Graham Poll

Fulham

Line-up: Taylor; Finnan, Goma, Knight, Harley; Malbranque (Hammond 61'), Clark (Legwinski 61'), Djetou, Boa Morte; Marlet, Saha

Unused substitutes: Herrera, Melville, Sava

Blackburn Rovers

Line-up: Friedel; Neill (Taylor 55'), Berg, Short, Gresko; Flitcroft, Dunn, Tugay (Gillespie 69' (Grabbi 90')), Duff; Sükür, Cole

Unused substitutes: Kelly, Yorke

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Arsenal 32 67
2 Manchester United 32 67
3 Newcastle United 32 61
4 Chelsea 32 57
5 Everton 32 53
6 Liverpool 32 52
7 Blackburn Rovers 32 49
8 Tottenham Hotspur 32 46
9 Charlton Athletic 32 46
10 Middlesbrough 32 45
11 Southampton 32 45
12 Manchester City 32 41
13 Fulham 32 38
14 Leeds United 32 37
15 Aston Villa 32 37
16 Bolton Wanderers 32 35
17 Birmingham City 32 35
18 West Ham United 32 31
19 West Bromwich Albion 32 21
20 Sunderland 32 19
Fulham (4-4-2)
  • 12Maik Taylor
  • 2Steve Finnan
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 16Zat Knight
  • 26Jon Harley
  • 14Steed Malbranque
  • 8Lee Clark
  • 17Martin Djetou
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 7Steve Marlet
  • 20Louis Saha
Substitutes
  • Martin Herrera
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 18Sylvain Legwinski
  • 9Facundo Sava
  • 34Elvis Hammond
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2)
  • 1Brad Friedel
  • 2Lucas Neill
  • Henning Berg
  • 24Craig Short
  • 18Vratislav Gresko
  • Garry Flitcroft
  • 19David Dunn
  • 5Kerimoglou Tugay
  • 16Damien Duff
  • Hakan Sükür
  • 8Andrew Cole
Substitutes
  • Alan Kelly
  • 5Martin Taylor
  • 19Keith Gillespie
  • Corrado Grabbi
  • 19Dwight Yorke