Top 10: Friendly Matches

Wednesday 10 July 2013 09:00

With the pre-season friendly schedule kicking off at the weekend when Fulham face C.S. Cartaginés in Costa Rica, we take a look back at 10 of our most memorable exhibition matches from history.

Fulham 3-2 Benfica 29.02.1972

Not a pre-season match, but instead arranged to mark the opening of the new Riverside Stand, Benfica made the trip to SW6 for a high-profile friendly in the 1970s.

The Portuguese giants boasted the legendary Eusebio in their side, but it was Second Division Fulham who took the bragging rights on that Tuesday evening, with the Whites two goals to the good within 20 minutes courtesy of efforts by Steve Earle and Roger Cross.

Diamantino halved the deficit on the stroke of half-time, but we restored the two-goal advantage in the second period when Coelhio put into his own net. Eusebio’s fine volleyed strike ensured a nervy finale, but Fulham held on to secure a morale-boosting victory over our illustrious opponents.

Fulham 2-1 Santos 12.03.1973

Another friendly outing that was scheduled well into the season saw Brazilian outfit Santos make the long journey to London to take on Fulham at Craven Cottage. It was a match that saw the largest attendance of the season, no doubt down to the presence of three-time World Cup winner Pelé.

After Santos had gone close to taking the lead through Edú’s free-kick that came off the bar, it was Fulham who broke the deadlock in fortunate circumstances on 35 minutes. Alan Pinkey sent a cross over that visiting keeper Claudio allowed to slip through his clutches and into the back of the net.

Our lead didn’t last for long, though, as Pelé picked himself up - having been fouled by Peter Mellor in the area – to clinically dispatch the subsequent spot-kick.

But as the match looked as though it was heading for a draw, Steve Earle popped up in the 83rd minute to secure another famous, if perhaps inconsequential, victory for the Whites.

Fulham 2-0 India 22.07.2000

Jean Tigana’s debut match in charge of Fulham at Craven Cottage saw us welcome India in what was their first-ever game on English soil.

The Frenchman named a strong team on what was a beautiful day in South-West London, with new signings John Collins and Luis Boa Morte both handed starts, alongside the likes of Steve Finnan, Rufus Brevett, Chris Coleman, Sean Davis and Lee Clark.

The Whites appeared to make a disastrous start, though, when Inivalappil Mani Vijayan found the back of the net within two minutes, only to be denied by the offside flag.

Fulham skipper Coleman then saw a headed effort cleared off the line 10 minutes later, and Collins and Kevin Betsy also went close before the Whites took the lead towards the end of the first half through Karl-Heinz Riedle.

The German striker had chances to extend the advantage in the second period, and eventually did just that in the 81st minute with a strike from close range.

AS Roma 2-1 Fulham 26.07.2003

We may have come away from this pre-season friendly with a defeat, but our performance provided great cause for optimism ahead of our third consecutive season back in the top flight.

Chris Coleman was preparing for his first season as full-time Manager of the Club (he’d go on to lead us to what was then a highest-ever league finish of ninth) and a high-profile exhibition match against Roma in Austria was arranged to give his side a tricky test ahead of the new campaign.

The Italian giants named a ferocious starting XI, with seasoned internationals Christian Chivu, Vincent Candela, Christian Panucci, Walter Samuel, Damiano Tommasi, Marco Delvecchio, and Francesco Totti all present.

After Totti and Steve Marlet had both seen efforts saved, it was Roma who took the lead on 26 minutes through Antonio Cassano. The striker – who is set to face Fulham again this summer with new club Parma – latched onto Totti’s long pass before chipping over Edwin van der Sar and into the net, despite the best efforts of Dean Leacock to clear off the line.

Fulham recovered instantly, though, and were level moments later when Louis Saha lashed a fantastic effort home from 25 yards out.

Chances then came and went for both sides, before Coleman gave some of his younger players some valuable experience, with Mark Hudson, Malik Buari, Zesh Rehman and Adam Green all entering the action.

But, just when it looked like we’d secured an impressive draw, Roma substitute Davide Bombardini grabbed the winner with a couple of minutes remaining. Nonetheless, the Whites had given supporters a taste of the quality football that was to come in the 2003/04 campaign.

Fulham 2-1 Real Mallorca 10.08.2003

The Whites concluded their 2003 pre-season schedule with another impressive performance – this time against La Liga’s Real Mallorca.

The Balearic outfit arrived in London fresh from winning the Copa del Rey six weeks earlier, beginning the match with the dangerous Samuel Eto’o leading the line. And the Cameroon international took advantage of hesitancy in the Fulham defence to poke his side into an early lead.

Luis Boa Morte brought the Whites level just after the half-hour mark when he headed home from debutant Moritz Volz’s cross to the back post, before Steed Malbranque’s brilliant volley in the second period earned Fulham victory.

Real Madrid 0-0 Fulham 29.07.2006

In what was arguably the most glamorous pre-season friendly in our history, Fulham took on one of the world’s greatest clubs in the guise of Real Madrid ahead of the 2006/07 campaign.

Madrid were led out in Austria by their all-time leading goalscorer Raúl, while fellow Spain internationals Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Michel Salgado and Guti were all selected in their starting XI.

But despite Real’s plethora of talent, it was Fulham who had the first decent chance of the game when Michael Brown collected debutant Franck Queudrue’s pass before seeing his effort parried by Casillas.

Júlio Baptista then went close for the Spanish side when his thunderous effort crashed against Antti Niemi’s crossbar, before the Whites saw an effort of our own come back off the woodwork when Collins John’s header hit the post.

In the second half, Guti saw an effort kept out by Niemi, before John was guilty of missing what was arguably the best chance of the game when he headed into the ground from six yards out, having lost his marker.

Papa Bouba Diop also saw an opportunity pass him by before the full-time whistle, as Fulham claimed a very credible draw against Fabio Capello’s side. The Spaniards may have enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but we could take solace from the fact that Casillas was the busier of the two goalkeepers.

Fulham 3-1 Celtic 19.07.2008

New signings Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera impressed on their debut outings at Craven Cottage as SPL Champions Celtic were brushed aside ahead of our record-breaking 2008/09 campaign.

Gera delivered a delightful cross within the opening two minutes for Erik Nevland to sweep his side into the lead, before Zamora crashed home a magnificent volley that left the visiting keeper with no chance.

Barry Robson’s free-kick brought the Hoops back into contention before the break, but Leon Andreasen’s fierce strike from the edge of the area following a corner on 85 minutes made sure of the win for Roy Hodgson’s side.

Brentford 0-5 Fulham 14.07.2010

We don’t get the opportunity to face local rivals Brentford very often these days, so fans will have enjoyed our comfortable pre-season victory over them three years ago.

In our first match since the UEFA Europa League Final, Ray Lewington was in charge of the Whites following Roy Hodgson’s departure to Liverpool. Several of our heroes from that heart-breaking night in Hamburg featured in the match at Griffin Park, and it was one of them put us ahead on 14 minutes – Chris Baird finding the net from 25 yards.

After David Stockdale had saved a penalty, David Elm then doubled the lead with a neat strike from the edge of the area following good work by Bjorn Helge Riise, before turning from scorer to provider when he set up Damien Duff for the third.

The Swedish striker was replaced by Zoltan Gera at half-time and our 2009/10 Player of the Season made an immediate impact, setting up Eddie Johnson to make it 4-0 a few minutes after the restart.

And there was still time for Simon Davies to add some gloss to the scoreline when he found the back of the net from inside the area on 67 minutes.

Fulham 5-1 Werder Bremen 07.08.2010

The Whites were in dazzling form at the Cottage three years ago when Zoltan Gera’s 11-minute hat-trick helped us on our way to an emphatic win over Werder Bremen.

Fulham actually went into half-time trailing to former Chelsea striker Claudio Pizarro’s goal, but were level on 53 minutes when Bobby Zamora finished with aplomb having collected Clint Dempsey’s through-ball.

Gera then took centre stage, beginning with a 25-yard thunderbolt on 65 minutes, before nodding in his second and Fulham’s third moments later.

He secured his hat-trick in the 76th minute when he guided the ball into an empty net from a full 35 yards after Bremen stopper Tim Wiese’s attempted clearance went straight to the Fulham man.

And there was still time for American forward Eddie Johnson to get his name on the scoresheet as the Whites secured a remarkable win over a side that had finished third in the Bundesliga the previous season, and that featured World Cup sensation Mesut Özil.

OGC Nice 0-4 Fulham 04.08.2012

The Whites came home from France with an impressive victory over Nice last season, with new boy Mladen Petrić wreaking havoc up front.

Petrić already had four pre-season goals to his name in the lead up to the match, and he made it five after just 18 minutes with a classy bicycle kick.

The Croatian then turned provider for Alexander Kačaniklić on the stroke of half-time, before he set up Mahamadou Diarra to make it 3-0 on 64 minutes.

Buomesca Tue Na Bangna then scored within two minutes of coming off the bench having collected a neat pass from fellow substitute Kerim Frei.


Real Madrid photos courtesy of Martin Goldthorpe.

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