Fulham squeezed through to the third round of the Intertoto Cup on away goals having been held by Finnish part-timers Haka for the second week in succession.

The Whites survived a succession of late scares after Steve Marlet’s opener earlier in the second half was cancelled out by Sami Ristilä. Young defender Zat Knight, brought off the bench to protect Fulham’s precarious advantage, cleared from underneath his own crossbar following a stoppage-time scramble to ensure Jean Tigana’s men progressed to face Greek opposition in the form of Aegaelo in the third round.

The much-maligned Marlet, who scored only six Premier League goals in his first season in England after an £11.5m from Lyon, produced a moment of quality to put the Londoners in front just two minutes into the second half. Collecting a long clearance from Maik Taylor, the French international lashed a lovely low finish past Mihail Slawuta, who proved unbeatable at Craven Cottage last weekend, after accelerating away from his marker.

Fulham had the better of the first half but once again struggled to create clear cut chances. Saha shot horribly wide after being played in behind the home defence by Sean Davis – and Haka came closest to breaking the deadlock when John Collins had to clear Jarko Okkonen’s header off the line at a corner. Davis stung Slawuta’s palms with a powerful drive from the edge of the box, but this fixture had all the intensity of a sleepy pre-season friendly rather than the start of a competition that could deliver a coveted UEFA Cup spot.

Tigana would have felt Fulham were inching into the next round when Marlet reminded everyone why he was so highly rated with his fabulous finish, but the goal only galvanised the hosts. Haka, far more adventurous than in the first leg where they were happy to protect a clean sheet in a 5-4-1 shape, went close when Jukka Rantala’s corner thudded against the frame of the goal and Lasse Karjalainen headed wastefully wide from another set-piece. But the Finnish Cup winners were given a helping hand by Maik Taylor midway through the second half. The Northern Irish international failed to hold a routine cross from Karjalainen and Ristilä bundled the rebound home from close range.

Fulham still had further chances to retake the lead with Saha and Marlet again missing good chances in front of goal, whilst there was late drama in stoppage time when the hosts were convinced that Valeri Popovitch had been tripped by Alain Goma inside the area. Danish referee Emil Laursen waved away the penalty appeals – and the Premiership side breathed a huge sigh of relief.

FC HAKA (5-3-2): S?awuta; Kangaskorpi (Torkkeli 83), Koskinen (Aalto 55), Okkonen, Pasoja (Väisänen 75), Ylönen; Karjalainen, Ristilä, Rantala; Innanen, Popovitch. Subs (not used): Vilmunen, Pasanen, Ruhanen, Koivuranta.

BOOKED: Ristilä, Ylönen.

GOAL: Ristilä (66).

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Ouaddoh, Harley, Goma, Melville; Davis, Legwinski (Boa Morte 57), Malbranque (Goldbaek 89), Collins (Knight 79); Marlet, Saha. Subs (not used): van der Sar, Sava, Hayles.

BOOKED: Boa Morte, Goma.

GOAL: Marlet (47).

REFEREE: Emil Laursen (Denmark).


This report initially appeared in the July 14 2002 edition of Sportscene