Fulham 2 Blackburn Rovers 1: Coleman fears lure of Boa Morte plaudits

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The Independent Football

It is not often you mention Crystal Palace and the world club champions in the same breath, but prior to Sao Paulo's goal against Liverpool in Japan yesterday, it was the team from Selhurst Park who had been the last to score against the Merseysiders.

However, the honour of being the last Premiership side to beat Liverpool fell to Fulham, back in October, in a 2-0 win, that second goal coming from Luis Boa Morte. It was the Portuguese winger, 28, who stole the plaudits here once more with his goal proving decisive and apart from that, his running and pace caused plenty of problems for Blackburn. However, a performance such as Boa Morte's, which took Fulham to their fourth consecutive home win and six points clear of the relegation zone, created another sort of problem for Chris Coleman.

With the transfer window only 13 days away, Coleman is well aware that there could be clubs lurking, hoping to lure his best players away. It was in the January window last year that Louis Saha, despite Coleman's protests, was sold for £12.8m to Manchester United. Well aware of how silly he would sound if he declared, as he did with Saha, that no amount of money would see his best players move on, he admitted that they would have to listen to serious offers, no matter how reluctantly.

"We want to hold on to our best players, of course," said Coleman. "Unfortunately there are certain teams in the league who have got a lot of money and a lot of pulling power, and we've got to compete with that.

"I'm a realist. But if we want to progress we've got to keep our best players. But if the unthinkable happens and somebody comes along it's going to be a lot of money. Because the players we've got, Boa Morte, Papa Bouba Diop, Steed Malbranque - they're unique players.

"But I'm quite sure they'll be here by the end of January. I'm determined to hang on to them. They're not disgruntled or unhappy. You see how much they give when they play. We know what football's like and there's always a twist around the corner, but at the minute I'm very confident they'll be here."

Coleman is powerless to stop Diop leaving, but that is only temporary because the Senegalese midfielder, who hobbled off injured here after his opening goal, will play in the African Nations Cup next month. Zat Knight, the Fulham defender, scored Blackburn's goal, and only a fine Mark Crossley save stopped Rovers getting a point.

Their manager, Mark Hughes, was complaining about bad decisions. Coleman, if he loses his best players next month, will have a lot more to whine about.

Goals: Diop (45) 1-0; Boa Morte (52) 2-0; Knight (og, 90) 2-1.

Fulham (4-5-1): Crossley; Leacock, Knight, Goma, Rosenior; John (Helguson, 35), Christanval, Diop (Legwinski, 50), Boa Morte (Elrich, 90), Radzinski; McBride. Substitutes not used: Warner (gk), Pearce.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Todd, Khizanishvili, Gray; Emerton (Thompson, 76), Tugay, Savage, Pedersen (Kuqi, 57); Bentley, Dickov. Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Reid, Mokoena.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne and Wear) Booked: Fulham: Knight, Radzinski, Helguson, McBride. Blackburn Rovers: Neill, Dickov, Tugay, Bentley.

Man of the match: Boa Morte.

Attendance: 20,138.

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