Kanu rides out the red mist to earn point

West Bromwich Albion 1 Fulham 1
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The Independent Online

What a way to mark the occasion. It had been announced before kick-off that it was Fifa Fair Play Day, and the two teams celebrated with three sendings-off, six bookings and a mass brawl. Great stuff.

What a way to mark the occasion. It had been announced before kick-off that it was Fifa Fair Play Day, and the two teams celebrated with three sendings-off, six bookings and a mass brawl. Great stuff.

The only thing fair was the result, which was down to a Nwankwo Kanu equaliser two minutes from time after Andy Cole had scored and been one of two sent off for Fulham. Both sides had been on poor runs coming, with Gary Megson's West Brom job possibly on the line after his side had failed to pick up a win this season. Fulham had lost their last three - their worst run under Chris Coleman.

But the Albion fans were united in their support for Megson and were rewarded with a period of dominance. But this spell coincided with the first signs of trouble, Albion's skipper, Darren Purse, escaping with just a booking for clattering into Papa Bouba Diop in the 26th minute.

Sixty seconds later, though, and Albion had a penalty after Moritz Volz handled Robert Earnshaw's header. But Fulham, mindful of Arsenal's ability to change a penalty decision against them last week, protested for over three minutes and were fortunate that only Collins John and their goalkeeper, Edwin van der Sar, were booked for ungentlemanly conduct.

It came as little surprise that Earnshaw lifted his penalty kick high and wide, but Megson said ungentlemanly conduct was "normal these days" and criticised Earnshaw for poor finishing. Kanu then headed against the bar and Neil Clement missed a sitter as Fulham were lucky to go into half-time still in the game.

But they were a changed team after the break, and their new-found aggression emerged in the worst way when Diop avenged the earlier tackle by shoving Purse in the face in the 61st minute and was promptly sent off.

Then Fulham broke rapidly through Cole, who played it wide to Adam Green before claiming the return pass to score from six yards out.

There was still time for Luis Boa Morte to break too, only to be felled by Clement six minutes from time. Clement, already booked for diving, was shown a straight red card and then got into a fight with Cole, who was also dismissed as a mass punch-up ensued.

The referee, Mike Dean, was still trying to keep the peace as the game entered the 88th minute when Koumas sent in a final corner and Kanu headed in.

Coleman insisted he did not condone his players' behav-iour, but said: "I won't be fining anyone. My directors might think different, but I want players with character. Purse's tackle on Diop was a coward's tackle that started the bad feeling, no doubt."

Dean, predictably, saw things differently, saying: "I'm happy with all my decisions, but I will be reporting Fulham to the FA for their continual harassment of me throughout the game."

Megson said: "I won't be looking at a video of the incidents - that's the referee's job, but that was another two points lost given the circumstances of the game."

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