Fulham have one foot in the third round of the Uefa Cup after Luis Boa Morte rediscovered his scoring touch and helped them to a comfortable first-leg victory over 10-man Dynamo Zagreb last night.
The Portuguese international slotted his first goal for 14 months to silence 25,000 fervent home supporters here in the Croatian capital.
Steve Marlet followed Boa Morte's 36th-minute strike with a cool finish on the hour, and Barry Hayles tapped in with 13 minutes left to ensure a celebration for Fulham's 150 travelling fans as they await the return leg in a fortnight's time.
Dumitru Mitu, Zagreb's most dangerous player, hit the post with the score at 0-0, but that was as good as it got for the passionate home fans known as the "Bad Blue Boys". Kristijan Polovanec was the bad boy on the pitch with a wild kick at Boa Morte that earned him a red card. Four minutes later Fulham were ahead.
Andy Melville was recalled to Fulham's starting line-up in place of the off-form Zat Knight and given the task of shackling Zagreb's on-loan Aston Villa striker, Bosko Balaban.
Both sides could have scored early on, but the balance of the match changed after 32 minutes. Boa Morte was only 15 yards inside the Zagreb half when Polovanec cut him down in full flight. The defender was not the last man, but the Spanish referee, Irrutalde Gonzalez, sent him off.
Fulham made the extra man pay with a slick move culminating in a fine goal in the 36th minute. Boa Morte flicked the ball to Marlet, who played it wide to Steed Malbranque. Boa Morte raced on to his pass to skip round Tomislav Butina and slide the ball into the net.
Marlet doubled Fulham's lead after a telling first contribution from Junichi Inamoto. The Japanese international came off the bench and within 60 seconds had sprung the Zagreb offside trap to put Marlet clean through. The Frenchman kept cool to roll the ball into the bottom right corner.
With 13 minutes left Fulham and their fans were celebrating again when Hayles tapped home Andrei Stolcers' cross to make it 3-0.
Dynamo Zagreb: Butina; Smoje, Sedloski, Polovanec, Maric, Agic, Olic, Krznar, Mitu, Mikic, Balaban (Petrovic, 63). Substitutes not used: Turina (gk), Cesar, Mujcin, Zahora, Kranjcar, Bosnjak.
Fulham: Van der Sar; Ouaddou, Melville, Goma, Brevett, Finnan, Malbranque, Legwinski, Djétou (Inamoto, 58), Marlet (Hayles, 66), Boa Morte (Stolcers, 71). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Clark, Knight, Womé.
Referee: I Gonzalez (Spain).