John and Jensen close door on Derby's class

Fulham 4 - Derby County 2 aet
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Fulham remembered their Premiership pedigree just in time or, more accurately, extra time to earn a fifth-round visit to Bolton after a first-half mauling which had threatened to become an embarrassment. Having gone into an early lead, Derby so dominated this FA Cup replay that a three- or four-goal interval lead would not have been excessive. Certainly Edwin van der Sar was kept far busier in the opening quarter of an hour than he had been by England in the whole of last Wednesday's dismal international.

Fulham remembered their Premiership pedigree just in time or, more accurately, extra time to earn a fifth-round visit to Bolton after a first-half mauling which had threatened to become an embarrassment. Having gone into an early lead, Derby so dominated this FA Cup replay that a three- or four-goal interval lead would not have been excessive. Certainly Edwin van der Sar was kept far busier in the opening quarter of an hour than he had been by England in the whole of last Wednesday's dismal international.

Lee Clark played a crucial role in restoring confidence to a Fulham side who resembled mugging victims at the end of a first half in which they somehow escaped on level terms thanks to a generously awarded penalty in added time. Once Luis Boa Morte shot them into the lead early in the second half, however, the swagger returned and Fulham were able to overcome the concession of a late equaliser with a couple of extra-time goals from their substitutes, Collins John and Claus Jensen.

Having thrown all their own substitutes into action, Derby were reduced to 10 men in those closing stages when their captain, Michael Johnson, exited on a stretcher with knee-ligament damage but they never gave in and their manager, George Burley, said: "I couldn't be more pleased. It opened a lot of people's eyes. We are a joy to watch at times."

Derby were entitled to trot out with confidence, having won their last five away games. They are also the best away side in the Championship, with nine victories on the road and the 4,000 fans who had followed them down the M1 were jubilant, but clearly not surprised, at the goal Fulham conceded with only three minutes played.

The elegant Spaniard Inigo Idiakez pushed a quick free-kick to Tommy Smith who made progress down the right before sliding in a low cross which Poland's Grzegorz Rasiak turned in for his 12th goal of the season. Even the early departure of Smith with a hip injury failed to disrupt Derby, with the Dane Morten Bisgaard orchestrating direct, attractive football which regularly bamboozled the young Fulham centre-backs, Zat Knight and Zesh Rehman.

Rehman headed against his own woodwork, Leroy Rosenior cleared off the line and the ability of Van der Sar to make the most awkward of saves look simple kept Fulham afloat, though it did not prevent a growing chorus of boos as Fulham's best hopes of progress appeared to be a hearty lumping of the ball up-field.

The penalty was awarded when Papa Bouba Diop, someone who goes to ground readily for such a big man, fell as he collided with Johnson, who was adjudged to have handled in the clash. Diop was up quickly to put away the spot-kick.

The Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, brought on what he called "an old head" in Alain Goma to shore up the defence and saw his team quickly go in front. Boa Morte cleverly controlled a cross from the right, turned inside a challenge and struck his shot low and true. But Derby deservedly equalised five minutes from the end. An Idiakez free-kick, awarded for Carlos Bocanegra's foul on Junior, was brilliantly aimed just inside the angle and marvellously clawed out by Van der Sar, only for the lurking Paul Peschisolido to pounce three minutes after coming off the bench.

He was the first of three substitutes to make his mark. John, the replacement for Andy Cole, seized on a knock-down to score early in extra time and then Jensen claimed the fourth a couple of minutes after he was called into the action with an elegant flick.

Coleman, who accused his players of "hiding" in the first half, said "I am glad we are away in the next round because we play better away than at home."

Comments