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  • Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Fulham: Unlucky Dempsey

    Blackburn Rovers moved up to 12th in the Premier League after two free-kick goals handed them a 2-0 win over Fulham at Ewood Park.

    A first-half finish from Chris Samba was complemented by fellow defender Ryan Nelsen's second-half header as the right boot of returning striker Benni McCarthy wreaked havoc in a match Fulham will feel they should have at least drawn.

    The Whites, missing the injured Bobby Zamora, had well over half the possession and, in the first half particularly, created a multitude of chances that they were unable to convert.

    Rovers, meanwhile, were happy to look for the counter attacks and set-plays that ultimately won them their first match in 10 with some comfort.

    Roy Hodgson, returning to his former club, will also privately be aggrieved that referee Kevin Friend missed a blatant professional foul by Samba on Erik Nevland that should have handed his side a spot-kick and Samba a red card but - with the score at 2-0 - the damage was already done.

    Fulham had the better of the first half but went behind to a fortuitous goal, defender Samba thrashing the ball into the roof of the net on 25 minutes after McCarthy's low near post corner ricocheted off Damien Duff and Mark Schwarzer.

    The goal came following Blackburn's best attack, McCarthy forcing a save from Schwarzer with a sweet chest-down and volley from the edge of the box, while on the quarter hour Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic missed Jonas Olsson's left-wing cross when any headed touch would surely have scored.

    Otherwise it was pretty much all Fulham. On 18 minutes Clint Dempsey headed straight at Paul Robinson after Stephen Kelly's arched right-wing cross, Chris Baird headed Duff's corner wide just after the half-hour mark and two minutes later Andy Johnson fired over after Brede Hangeland's through-ball helped him spring the offside trap.

    Versatile USA midfielder Dempsey, playing as a striker in the absence of a Zamora in form before his shoulder injury, deserved a goal after a remarkable effort three minutes later.

    A free-kick from wide was deflected into Dempsey's path and, with his back to goal on the edge of the box, he took a touch on his chest before unleashing an audacious bicycle kick that beat Robinson and rattled the crossbar.

    Sixty seconds later, on 37 minutes, Duff forced Robinson to parry when he capped off a surging run with a powerful drive.

    Two minutes after that Dempsey missed a far easier chance to level, firing straight at Robinson after leaving Gael Givet and Steven Reid for dead with a delightful back-heeled turn.

    Down the other end, Olsson should have done better when he shot straight and weak at Schwarzer in a rare Rovers attack, as Fulham went in at half-time somehow behind.



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