Saturday 1 March 2003, 3:00pm at Loftus Road, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Fulham
1
Saha 85'
Sunderland
Sunderland
0
Rock-bottom Sunderland plummeted closer to the Football League today as they laid siege to the Fulham goal at Loftus Road but were put to the sword by Fulham hit-man Louis Saha in the 85th-minute.

85' Goal

Louis Saha

38' Yellow Card

Jon Harley Card was given for a foul

61' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Abdeslam Ouaddou
Off:Junichi Inamoto

71' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Andrejs Stolcers
Off:Steed Malbranque

74' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Elvis Hammond
Off:Facundo Sava

57' Yellow Card

Gavin McCann Card was given for a foul

67' Yellow Card

Jason McAteer Card was given for a foul

80' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Michael Proctor
Off:Matt Piper

84' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:George McCartney
Off:Michael Gray

0
15
30
45
60
75
90

The Black Cats threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Cottagers - but failed to score and now have just nine games to bridge the seven-point gap to survival.  

Louis Saha struck with just six minutes left to hoist Jean Tigana's side to the brink of safety.  

Howard Wilkinson's men had chance after chance - but a combination of Maik Taylor's saves, Martin Djetou's goalline clearance and shoddy finishing enabled the Londoners to hold out and bag a late winner.  

Tore Andre Flo had gone for precision rather than power in the 10th minute,putting the ball over Taylor but agonisingly beyond the far post.  

Flo could have scored without knowing about it in the 31st minute, when theball hit his backside and bounced goalwards.  

Taylor gathered on that occasion although he was beaten just after the break -but Kevin Kilbane scooped the ball inches wide.  

Djetou headed Kilbane's effort off his own line in the 58th minute and Taylorsaved from Flo late on.  

And Sunderland paid the price for their misses with six minutes left when substitute Andrejs Stolcers crossed and Saha headed home.  Wilkinson's side had started brightly, with only a superb interception by Jon Harley preventing Matt Piper connecting with Kilbane's left-wing cross.  

Steed Malbranque, as so often, was Fulham's main danger man.  

Thomas Sorensen saved the Frenchman's 10th-minute strike from Junichi Inamoto's pull back - and from the rebound, Saha skipped away from Piper and Jody Craddock made a crucial last-gasp block as he shot. 

Stephen Wright slipped a marvellous slide rule pass into Flo's feet.   

The big Norwegian chipped the ball over Taylor but watched as the ball skidded just past the far post as Kevin Phillips raced in.  

The lowly visitors threatened again through a moment of enterprising play by Phillips.  

He flicked up Gavin McCann's driven cross and hooked a shot goalwards, blocked by Sylvain Legwinski.  

However, the pace of the game slowed as the half hour mark arrived, reflecting the lack of atmosphere at Loftus Road with only the 2,000-strong travelling support making any noise.  

Flo went close to scoring the opener without knowing anything about it in the31st minute.  

Piper's corner hit him on the behind and bounced goalwards before Taylor gathered.  

Harley was the first name in the book of referee Eddie Wolstenholme for acrude tackles on Phillips.  

The Black Cats front man raced up field after a Fulham corner was cleared and Harley, with only Andy Melville behind him, chopped down Phillips.  

Sunderland were inches away from grabbing the lead two minutes after the interval.  Taylor parried Craddock's thumping volley and the ball fell into space sixyards out.   

Kilbane stuck out a leg, made contact at the same time as Fulham centre-back Melville and the ball brushed the wrong side of Taylor's left-hand upright.  

Fulham were even more fortuitous just before the hour, surviving a comedy goalmouth scramble.  

Phillips crossed for Flo, who collided with Taylor and sent the ball bobbling towards goal.  

Harley hacked clear but Kilbane returned the ball goalwards and, as Flo blocked Melville, Djetou headed off his own line.  

Sunderland had upped the pressure on the Fulham goal and Taylor had to make a fine save from Flo, who had fired off a shot from Phillips' knockdown.  

Phillips then made a complete hash of a free header and sent the ball high and wide of Taylor's goal.  

Tigana threw on forgotten forward Stolcers and young striker Elvis Hammond as the final 15 minutes neared.  

And the pair teamed up with eight minutes left to create a golden opportunity.  

Stolcers delivered a wonderful cross from the right but Hammond scuffed his finish wide from three yards out.  

But there was no denying Saha two minutes later.   

Stolcers again put over theperfect delivery from the flank and the Frenchman stole into space to head homethe winner from six yards.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Saturday 1 March 2003
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Loftus Road, London
Attendance: 16,286

Referee: Eddie Wolstenhome

Fulham

Line-up: Taylor; Finnan, Melville, Djetou, Harley; Malbranque (Stolcers 71'), Legwinski, Inamoto (Ouaddou 61'), Wome; Saha, Sava (Hammond 74')

Unused substitutes: Herrera, Leacock

Sunderland

Line-up: Sørensen; Wright, El Karkouri, Craddock, Gray (McCartney 84'); Piper (Proctor 80'), McCann, McAteer, Kilbane; Tore Andre Flo, Kevin Phillips

Unused substitutes: Macho, Babb, Arca

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Arsenal 28 60
2 Manchester United 28 55
3 Newcastle United 28 55
4 Everton 29 49
5 Chelsea 29 48
6 Charlton Athletic 28 45
7 Liverpool 28 43
8 Blackburn Rovers 29 43
9 Tottenham Hotspur 29 43
10 Southampton 29 42
11 Manchester City 29 38
12 Fulham 29 37
13 Middlesbrough 28 35
14 Aston Villa 28 35
15 Leeds United 28 34
16 Birmingham City 28 29
17 Bolton Wanderers 28 26
18 West Ham United 29 26
19 West Bromwich Albion 29 21
20 Sunderland 29 19
Fulham (4-4-2)
  • 12Maik Taylor
  • 2Steve Finnan
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 17Martin Djetou
  • 26Jon Harley
  • 14Steed Malbranque
  • 18Sylvain Legwinski
  • 6Junichi Inamoto
  • 27Pierre Wome
  • 20Louis Saha
  • 9Facundo Sava
Substitutes
  • Martin Herrera
  • 22Dean Leacock
  • 25Abdeslam Ouaddou
  • 40Andrejs Stolcers
  • 34Elvis Hammond
Sunderland (4-4-2)
  • 29Thomas Sørensen
  • 21Stephen Wright
  • 15Talal El Karkouri
  • 6Jody Craddock
  • 33Michael Gray
  • 21Matt Piper
  • Gavin McCann
  • Jason McAteer
  • 21Kevin Kilbane
  • Tore Andre Flo
  • 9Kevin Phillips
Substitutes
  • Jürgen Macho
  • Phil Babb
  • 3George McCartney
  • 33Julio Arca
  • Michael Proctor