Fulham 0 Southampton 3 match report: Adam Lallana strikes first as Fulham sink to bottom
Fulham made six additions in 48 hours but Lallana's England team-mates Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez combine to sink Rene Meulensteen's side
Saturday 01 February 2014
It must have seemed like a good idea on Friday night. But Fulham’s attempt to recall the spirit of 2010 by handing out cardboard clappers to supporters ended in disaster as three Southampton goals in the space of 12 second-half minutes left Rene Meulensteen’s side marooned at the foot of the table.
Those heady days under Roy Hodgson must feel like a lifetime ago for the Craven Cottage faithful. The England manager was back in west London but saw his former side totally outclassed by Southampton’s thrilling attacking trio of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez, who must all be real contenders to spend this summer in Brazil.
With most of Fulham’s relegation rivals picking up points, Meulen-steen acknowledged the start of the post-Dimitar Berbatov era could not have gone any worse. “We had great hopes for this game and for 60 minutes we were in the match,” he said. “To concede three goals like that was disastrous. But we cannot afford to lay down and feel sorry for ourselves. It’s the biggest challenge Fulham has faced for many years.”
The new £12.5 million Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou, Johnny Heitinga and Larnell Cole were paraded before kick-off, having not been registered in time to play, meaning only loanees Lewis Holtby and William Kvist were able to make their debuts. For Southampton’s manager, Mauricio Pochettino, hanging on to left-back Luke Shaw was his biggest success of the window.
Visiting goalkeeper Artur Boruc needed to be in top form in the first half as he denied Brede Hangeland from Holtby’s precise corner, before Darren Bent failed to beat the Polish No 1 twice in the space of 20 seconds after being set up by Scott Parker and then Steve Sidwell.
In the second half, Southampton were transformed. Jack Cork replaced Victor Wanyama in midfield and suddenly there were chances galore.
Lallana set up Morgan Schneiderlin for a spectacular overhead kick before the floodgates opened in the 63rd minute. A rapid recycling of the ball in midfield allowed Lambert time to pick out Lallana and the England winger finished with aplomb. Some superb link-up play down the right flank between substitute Nathaniel Clyne and Steven Davis then set up Lambert for a simple tap-in, before Rodriguez compounded Fulham’s misery when he was allowed to run past two markers and curl a brilliant shot into the top corner.
“We knew Fulham would defend deep and try to counterattack,” said Pochettino. “In the second half we corrected our strikers’ position, and that allowed us to create some good chances.”
Now Meulensteen must try to inspire a similar turnaround down by the river.
Fulham (4-3-3): Stekelenburg; Riether, Burn, Hangeland, Richardson; Parker (Kasami, 73), Sidwell, Kvist (Tankovic, 78); Holtby, Bent, Duff (Dempsey, 64).
Southampton (4-3-3): Boruc; Chambers (Clyne, 57), Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw; S Davis, Wanyama (Cork, 46), Schneiderlin; Lallana, Lambert, Rodriguez (Gallagher, 87).
Referee: Michael Jones.
Man of the match: Lallana (Southampton)
Match rating: 7/10
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