Euro glee for Mel

Thursday 19 September 2002

It was The Beautiful Stadium and a beautiful performance from Jean Tigana's men in Croatia, as Fulham put on an ultra-professional display to silence a ferocious capacity crowd.

In a typically European atmosphere, Fulham refused to allow the home fans to water down their concentration. Despite a couple of stoppages in play due to flares being thrown on the pitch, the players kept their composure right up until the final whistle.

Ironically for the home supporters, those delays came at just the right time for Fulham, as the Whites looked to take the sting out of an immediate Hajduk fight back following Malbranque's goal.

Recalled into action for Thursday night's match was Captain, Andy Melville. Speaking after the victory, he revealed how the team was fully ready for their surroundings.

"We saw a few videos so we knew it was going to be hostile," said Melville. "The fans didn't stop signing right through the game which was good for the atmosphere."

"We've done well in the Intertoto Cup getting away goals, and we've done it again against Split. We were quite solid at the back and we had a lot of possession in the end. We could have put a few more in but it's all credit to the lads for working hard."

However, the match wasn't all plain sailing for the Whites and they had to endure a tricky opening. With Hajduk piling on the pressure, it took a combination of stern defending and excellent goalkeeping from Edwin van der Sar to keep the home side at bay.

Acknowledging the big Dutchman's contribution between the sticks, Melville said, "In the first half they had some good quality set-pieces which were difficult to defend against, but Edwin pulled off a couple of saves and kept us in the game."

With the away leg now out of the way, attention turns the small matter of a West London derby on Monday night against Chelsea.

"We've set ourselves up nicely for Monday, especially with our league form as well," said the Skipper. "We'll have our minds set on that over the next couple of days. We owe them one from the FA Cup semi-final.

"The supporters will be looking forward to that. They were brilliant in Croatia and I'm sure they'll be brilliant on Monday as well."