Football: Beardsley flaunts Fulham's riches

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The Independent Online
Fulham 3 Manchester City 0

IF MANCHESTER CITY hoped the malaise dogging them in recent times would be over after two wins in their first week at this level, then they were soon put right in emphatic fashion last night. Bad defending can cost dearly in any division and by half-time City's predicament was all too familiar.

The air of opulence pervading this Second Division fixture was emphasised before the kick-off when Mohamed Al Fayed took to the pitch to receive George Cohen's World Cup winner's medal from the former Fulham full-back, for an estimated pounds 75,000.

Fulham soon looked far the richer in quality as well. From Simon Morgan's free-kick after 21 minutes, two of their former England internationals combined to confirm the home team's early dominance with the opening goal. Paul Bracewell found Peter Beardsley in space on the right hand corner of the penalty area and the on-loan 37-year-old forward, also borrowed by City last season, threaded a shot inside the far post.

High confidence levels could have been expected from both teams after their 100 per cent starts to the season but perhaps City's horrible plunge all the way down from the Premiership over the past 18 months meant they were the more vulnerable.

Beardsley was again involved when Fulham scored 12 minutes later. His square pass invited Steve Hayward to strike goalwards but it was Dirk Lehmann's outstretched leg, diverting the ball, which obliged goalkeeper Nick Weaver to parry the ball. The German striker, signed last week from Cottbuss, put away the rebound.

The game looked up almost before it had started. John Salako, in sparkling form, received his short corner back from Bracewell six minutes before the interval and centred perfectly for Lehmann to beat the City defence with ease and head into the near corner of the goal.

Fulham: Taylor; Morgan, Coleman, Symons, Brevett; Collins, Hayward, Bracewell, Salako; Beardsley, Lehmann. Substitutes not used: Uhlenbeek, Neilson, Moody.

Manchester City: Weaver, Edgehill, Tskhadadze (Alsop, 13), Wiekens, Vaughan, Horlock; Jim Whitley, Pollock, Mason; Goater, Dickov. Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Jeff Whitley.

Referee: M. Fletcher (Birmingham).