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  • Blackpool 2-2 Fulham: Zamora, Etuhu great-finish

    A Luke Varney-inspired Blackpool came from a goal down to hold Fulham to a 2-2 draw in the first Premier League game at Bloomfield Road.

    Dickson Etuhu's late equaliser meant that the Tangerines were denied a fairytale win but they will take confidence from a strong second half recovery and a impressive debut for Varney, who scored one and was involved in the other for the Seasiders.

    Bobby Zamora's 34th minute header gave Fulham a 1-0 lead going into the break but a revitalised Blackpool came out for the second half and played at a phyical intensity that troubled the Londoners.

    Varney, only signed from Derby on Friday, was a constant irritant to Fulham and it was his 71st minute shot that John Pantsil, scrambling to clear, turned into his own net.

    Five minutes later Varney picked up a through ball, took a touch, and fired confidently to the far post and beyond David Stockdale in the Fulham goal.

    But Blackpool were denied victory when Fulham's Etuhu burst down the pitch, picked up Moussa Dembele's brilliant pass, and calmly lofted over Matthew Gilks to ensure the teams shared the points.

    The game swung into Blackpool's hands when Zamora, a handful to Blackpool all afternoon, had to be withdrawn after picking up an injury sustained during an aerial challenge in the 59th minute.

    The watching Fabio Capello seemed as concerned as Mark Hughes, who replaced him with Clint Dempsey, but Blackpool gained a psychological lift after Zamora hobbled off.

    Fulham, who had looked largely untroubled at the back throughout the first half, lost the focus of their attacks after Zamora departed and looked somewhat toothless with Dempsey leading the line.

    Dembele, who was impressive throughout, was unable to link as well with the Texan as he had with Zamora and, ultimately, this Fulham performance highlighted just how important the England man could be to their system.

    This was perfectly illustrated by Fulham's fluid opener after 34 minutes, which saw Zamora head in from close range after a delicate cross by Dembele, who was released into space on the right by a perfectly weighted ball from Damien Duff.

    But unsurprisingly the atmosphere at Bloomfield Road was cracking and the sea of orange were almost celebrating after just four minutes when new signing Varney, fired a left-footed volley at David Stockdale, who managed to palm the ball over his bar.

    But that was the only occasion that the Fulham goalkeeper, who is reportedly in line to be named in Capello's next England squad, was called into action in the first half.

    Varney was popping up all over the place and he was a thorn in the side of Fulham with his ability to find space behind the visitors' midfield and a sharp eye for goal that could have been rewarded more than once.

    But Blackpool were denied all three points after Etuhu's well -aken late strike, but with four points from their opening three games, Blackpool will travel to Newcastle next weekend full of confidence.
    Michael Da Silva / Eurosport


    Team Line-up:

    Blackpool: Gilks, Baptiste, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey, Ormerod, Vaughan, Adam, Grandin, Varney, Taylor-Fletcher; Subs: Halstead, Eardley, Basham, Euell, Sylvestre, Demontagnac, Keinan

    Fulham: Stockdale, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Kelly, Davies, Etuhu, Murphy, Duff, Zamora, Dembele; Subs: Zuberbuhler, Baird, Gera, Riise, Dempsey, Greening, Briggs Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)


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