Saha wreaks revenge over Southampton

Fulham 2 Southampton 0

The struggle for the unofficial title of Best of the Rest - well worth having, given that it also entails a Champions' League place - took another twist here yesterday as Fulham returned to fourth place at the expense of the side which had usurped them six days earlier.

It is 56 years since Southampton won at Fulham, and despite their healthy altitude in the Premiership this season, the visitors looked as if they could play for a similar span without getting any closer to the desired result.

What looked on paper like a hugely challenging task turned out to be a jog in the park for Chris Coleman's men, who simply overran their opposition.

The key area was in midfield, where Steed Malbranque - why aren't Manchester United more interested in him instead of Louis Saha? - and Lee Clark established such dominance that they were able to free Saha and Luis Boa Morte to maraud at will.

The sides were separated by two goals from the man who has been dreaming out loud about a move to Old Trafford recently. But Coleman was adamant afterwards that Saha would not be going anywhere in a hurry.

After challenging a questioner who maintained that Saha had said it would be his dream to join Manchester United, Coleman commented: "Yeah, eventually, maybe. But he's got two years to go on his contract and he'll be staying here at least up to the end of the season.''

Setting aside the question of the Frenchman's ultimate destination, Coleman felt free to praise his lone striker after a performance which enabled Fulham to recover their upward mobility on the back of successive defeats. Saha's first goal, after 19 minutes, came from a wicked cross-shot after Malbranque had sent him clear of the Southampton defence following a smart exchange of passes with Clark. The decisive goal arrived via the penalty spot in the 63rd minute following a foul on Boa Morte by Chris Marsden.

"Louis has got everything," Coleman said. "He's strong in the air, he's got two good feet and he's brave. This season he is fulfilling his potential and scoring goals at the top level. I think he's playing the best football of his life."

Far from having to sell Saha when the transfer window opens next month, Coleman maintains that his chairman has given him enough money to bring players in the other direction.

"We haven't got millions to spend but we need a bit more strength in depth and hopefully we can bring some players in. We are more attractive than we were six months ago. It's a bit of everything - the fact that we're going back to Craven Cottage next season, and we're fourth, and we're playing good football."

Having returned to Europe this season following their achievement in reaching the FA Cup final, Southampton are also looking in a generally healthy state. But their manager, Gordon Strachan, was a pained figure as he reflected upon a defeat that brought to an end a run of three successive victories.

"Today we were beaten by a far better side," he said. "I was surprised by the way we played. Normally what we have got is energy, heart and all the rest of it. But today we seemed unable to pass the ball 10 yards.

"I counted 15 occasions when we gave the ball away in the middle of the park, which means there are 15 more attacks we have to deal with.'' Strachan continues to claim that his side are a "middle-of-the-table team''. Unless they perform to a higher standard that this, his prediction looks likely to be correct.

Goals: Saha (19) 1-0; Saha pen (63) 2-0.

Fulham (4-5-1): Van der Sar 7; Volz 7, Knight 7, Goma 7, Bonnissel 6 (Harley 6, 22); Boa Morte 8, Inamoto 6, Djetou 6, Clark 7, Malbranque 8; Saha 8. Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Melville, Sava, Hayles.

Southampton (4-4-2): Niemi 8; Dodd 7, Lundekvam 6, M Svensson 5, Higginbotham 4; Telfer 4, Prutton 6, Marsden 5, McCann 4 (Delgado 3, 73); Beattie 5, Ormerod 4 (Phillips 6, 50). Substitutes not used: Blayney (gk), A Svensson, Baird.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire) 7.

Bookings: Southampton: M Svensson, Prutton.

Man of the match: Malbranque.

Attendance: 16,767.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?