Nemeth puts paid to off-colour Fulham

Middlesbrough 2 Fulham 1

Louis Saha resembled a man with his mind elsewhere - Old Trafford, perhaps - as Fulham slipped to a defeat last night which stalls their progress towards a lucrative place in the top four of the Premiership.

However, he was not the only Fulham player to make a negligible impact on a match deservedly won by an enterprising Middlesbrough side through goals from Joseph-Desiré Job and Szilard Nemeth. Barry Hayles' last-minute strike came too late for Fulham.

They could have done with Saha firing on all cylinders and their manager, Chris Coleman, was critical of his striker's stance on Fulham refusing Manchester United's offer for him. "I saw Louis' comment and I will nip it in the bud. I understand he is disappointed, but he has a job to do at Fulham. He is a very important part of our team," Coleman said. "It would be a dream for him to play for Manchester United, but selling our top scorer would be bad management by me and bad for the club."

Saha, playing as Fulham's lone striker, has been responsible for 14 of Fulham's goals this season - the same number mustered by Middlesbrough in the Premiership. The response of their manager, Steve McClaren, was to employ three forwards in Juninho, Nemeth and Job, and there was an admirably aggressive air about Boro from the start.

They almost took the lead after nine minutes when the Fulham goalkeeper, Edwin van der Sar, made a fine reflex save at the foot of the post after Stewart Downing's shot was deflected by Zat Knight.

Then, with only 14 minutes gone, Middlesbrough provided a rare treat for their supporters with a goal from Job. It stemmed from a left-wing corner awarded despite Fulham's claim that the ball had gone behind off Job. Downing's flag-kick set up Ugo Ehiogu and, after his shot was blocked by Van der Sar, Job hooked in the rebound from six yards.

Lee Clark should have equalised in the 22nd minute after being left with a clear opening by Steed Malbranque's pass, but Brad Jones, Middlesbrough's third-choice goalkeeper making his Premiership debut, diverted his shot wide. Jones, who turned down the chance to link up with Australia's Under-23s for the Olympic qualifiers, also did well to grasp a low shot from Luis Boa Morte. But these were isolated threats and Fulham would have been further adrift by the interval if Gareth Southgate and Juninho had accepted excellent chances.

After Boa Morte sliced a useful opportunity wide in the opening moments of the second half, Middlesbrough reasserted their authority but found a second goal elusive. Franck Queudrue and Job were close to heading in crosses from Downing, while the lively winger steered a shot across goal following another cross from Danny Mills.

Middlesbrough were eventually rewarded for their refreshing approach in the 67th minute when Van der Sar failed to cling to a free-kick from Downing. The persistent Southgate and Ehiogu returned the loose ball to the danger area and Nemeth drove it past two defenders on the line.

Middlesbrough (4-3-3): Jones 7; Mills 6, Ehiogu 6, Southgate 6, Queudrue 6; Boateng 6, Zenden 7, Downing 8; Nemeth 6, Job 8, Juninho 7. Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), Riggott, Maccarone, Doriva, Parnaby.

Fulham (4-4-2): Van der Sar 7; Djetou 6, Knight 6, Melville 6, Green 6; Malbranque 5, Legwinski 5 (Hayles 6, 70), Clark 6, Davis 5; Boa Morte 5, Saha 5. Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Inamoto, Hudson, Petta.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset) 6.

Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments