Blackburn Rovers finished in the top half of the Premiership table after outstanding performances from Damien Duff and Andy Cole saw them ease past a frail Fulham side on the final day of the season.

A satisfied Graeme Souness, who saw his side promoted in second place as the Cottagers stormed to the Division One title last season, could feel content at a top well done as Rovers, set to play in Europe next year after winning the League Cup, won this battle to finish tenth in the top flight – almost without breaking sweat. It was no surprise that Duff and Cole, two of Blackburn’s most consistent performers throughout a fine campaign, were pivotal to what became a straightforward success at Ewood Park.

Duff, who collected his club player of the season trophy ahead of the kick off, was full of willing running from the outset and capped another high-class display with a smartly-taken goal. Cole, a former Fulham forward, bagged a brace and could quite easily have had more. The £7m signing from Manchester United might have put the hosts ahead as early as the second minute but contrived to head Keith Gillespie’s cross wide after David Dunn had teased Sylvain Legwinski in central midfield.

The former England striker then nodded wide from six yards before Matt Jansen, distraught to miss out on Sven-Goran Eriksson’s World Cup squad earlier this week, kicked only fresh air when Duff had delivered the perfect cross. Fulham had offered little in attack by way of comparison but Gillespie was fortunate that Steve Marlet didn’t take advantage of his terrible backpass to give the visitors the lead. Louis Saha shot just wide from 25 yards, but Blackburn still controlled proceedings.

Cole went close again twice before the break – denied by Maik Taylor’s legs on one occasion before he berated himself for not connecting with another devilish Duff cross. But the striker’s luck changed eight minutes after the break when the reliable Taylor made a dreadful error. The Northern Ireland goalkeeper looked in no difficulty when he controlled a run of the mill back pass from Jon Harley, but dwelt in possession and then tried to dribble past Cole as the forward closed him down. That move proved costly as Cole executed a sliding tackle and got to his feet to find the empty net.

Twelve minutes later and Blackburn had further breathing space. A beautifully worked move saw Cole spin away from Andy Melville and put Jansen clear. The former Crystal Palace forward picked the perfect moment to prod a pass beyond Zat Knight, who had already committed himself to a slide tackle, and find Duff, who drove delightfully into the bottom corner to score his eight goal of the season.

The hosts were utterly rampant now. Taylor partially redeemed himself by dashing off his line to deny Jansen, who had beaten Steve Finnan to Cole’s clever pass, and the veteran forward nearly grabbed a second but he couldn’t force Lucas Neill’s cross over the line. Cole wasn’t waiting long for another goal, however, as he latched onto a lovely pass from Tugay, turned Melville and touched a fine finish past Taylor to register a thirteenth goal since signing for Rovers at the turn of the year.

Eddie Lewis came close to a long-range consolation but Taylor remained busy until the end, making a smart save to prevent Cole from completing a hat-trick and then repelling an effort from substitute Yordi Cryuff.

BLACKBURN ROVERS (4-4-2): Kelly; Neill, Berg, Johansson (Unsal 75), Taylor; Gillespie, Tugay (Yordi 82), Dunn, Duff; Cole, Jansen (Hughes 75). Subs (not used): Curtis, Miller.

BOOKED:  Tugay, Neill, Dunn.

GOALS: Cole (53, 81) Duff (66).

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Finnan, Harley, Melville, Ouaddoh (Knight 45); Davis, Legwinski (Stolcers 85), Goldbaek, Lewis; Saha, Marlet (Willock 85). Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Collins.

REFEREE: Chris Foy (St. Helens).