Rovers, who had just suffered three straight defeats, twice threw away the lead before finally learning their lesson and holding on after Jon Stead's74th-minute strike gave them the edge at 4-3. Graeme Souness' men had earlier been 1-0 and 3-2 up but suffered an attack of the jitters both times as Chris Coleman's side fought back.
The Lancastrians did hold their nerve after Stead's late winner - the second goal for which Edwin van der Sar was at fault - and are now three points clearof Leeds, who occupy the final relegation berth and play tomorrow night. Andy Cole got the first goal tonight after 22 minutes, taking Tugay's brilliant 40-yard pass in his stride and slamming a volley past van der Sar. Fulham were level three minutes later when Collins John - on his full debut - beat his team-mate Carlos Bocanegra to the ball and bundled it over the line.
John, 18, completed his second brace in three days with a tidy finish from Sean Davis' free-kick on the stroke of half-time, putting Fulham 2-1 up. Souness, who spent significant chunks of this match haranguing the officials, must have had harsh words at half-time as his team started the second periodlike a steam train.
Jon Douglas netted his first for the club with a sweet eight-yard volley and Lorenzo Amoruso's swerving free-kick bemused van der Sar to give theLancastrians the edge at 3-2 with 40 minutes still to play. Fulham were level at 3-3 when Luis Boa Morte polished off a 70-yard run with a smart finish for a brilliant goal.
But there was a twist in the tail of this memorable match when Stead embarrassed van der Sar with a well-hit 20-yard shot which squeezed under theDutchman's body to make the final score 4-3. So Rovers' troublesome campaign may be a far cry from last season - they finished sixth with an impressive 60 points - but they have at least giventhemselves a fighting chance of survival. After 12 minutes of the game, former Huddersfield frontman Stead was left clutching his face after an incident involving Zat Knight. Fulham centre-back Knight appeared to run into the Rovers striker as the duo ran back from a home attack.
Blackburn players gestured that Knight had headbutted Stead but referee Mike Dean consulted his assistant and took no action. The flare-up transformed the match and, in the 22nd minute, Tugay's magnificent 40-yard curling pass put Cole in on goal. The forward controlled with his chest and smashed a ferocious close-range volley past van der Sar.
But Rovers conceded just three minutes later. Sean Davis' free-kick caused mayhem in the visitors' box and Steed Malbranque nodded across goal for John tobeat his team-mate Bocanegra to the ball and bundle it over the line. Brad Friedel kept Rovers level approaching the interval as Knight twice powered set-piece headers goalwards - and twice the American keeper savedimpressively. But, on the stroke of half-time, John nipped in ahead of Vratislav Gresko to touch home a Davis free-kick from the right and give Fulham a 2-1 lead.
After the break, Rovers roared back into the lead with two goals in three minutes, First, in the 47th minute, Garry Flitcroft flicked on a throw andDouglas volleyed into the top corner from eight yards. It was the Irish midfielder's first goal for the club on his 17th appearance. Van der Sar performed heroics to somehow claw the ball clear in a desperate goalline scramble - but that proved to be only a brief respite as the visitorswent 3-2 up after 50 minutes.
Amoruso smacked a 30-yard free-kick through the disintegrating Fulham wall and van der Sar, deceived by the swerve on the ball, could only palm it into hisnet. It was end-to-end stuff at Loftus Road and Fulham pulled back to 3-3 just before the hour with a stunning goal. Djetou broke up a Rovers attack and the ball broke to Boa Morte, 25 yards inside his own half. The Portuguese winger sprinted upfield, exchanging passeswith John. He left the visitors' defence trailing in his wake and capped asuperb move with a cool finish from just inside the box. But this topsy-turvy match took another twist in the 74th minute when Rovers took the lead for the third time, with van der Sar again at fault. Stead played a fortunate one-two with Cole and let fly from 20 yards - with his powerful shot squirming under van der Sar's body and into the net to makethe final score 4-3 to the visitors.