Steve Marlet’s equaliser secured safe passage in the InterToto Cup semi-finals for Fulham after a 1-1 draw with Greek outfit FC Egaleo ensured the Whites progressed on away goals.

Fulham, leading courtesy of a late strike from Louis Saha that saw Fulham bade farewell to Craven Cottage on a high, were far from their best on a nervy night in Athens. Egaleo took the lead when Yiannis Chloros punished some slack defending midway through the first half to slot home from close range, but Jean Tigana’s men grabbed a vital away goal when a flowing move down the left unlocked the hosts’ defence ten minutes later. An incisive pass from Steed Malbranque set Luis Boa Morte away and the Portuguese winger’s low cross was converted by Marlet to the delight of a noisy band of travelling fans.

Any hope that the equaliser would allow Fulham’s fluent football to capitalise on Egaleo’s attempts to score the goals they needed in the second half was a forlorn one however. The visitors were indebted to Edwin van der Sar who produced a brilliant double save to deny substitute Anestis Agritis and then Chloros in quick succession before left back Daniel Edusei found an alarming amount of space in the away penalty area but shot wide.

Fulham’s dominance of the first leg looked a distant memory as the spirited Greeks fought for every ball and raised the intensity. Eventually, Tigana’s side began to find space on the counter attack as their hosts committed extra bodies forward. Luis Boa Morte produced a lungbusting run from deep before seeing a fierce drive pushed aside by Nenad Bikic and the Serbian goalkeeper soon denied the Portuguese international with Steed Malbranque failing to hit the target on the follow up.

Egaleo came again and Ghanaian full back Edusei continued to be an unlikely source of hope. The defender dribbled past three defenders but showed why shooting wasn’t his forte by blazing over with van der Sar’s goal gaping and Fulham, with Alain Goma and Andy Melville outstanding in organising the back four, were able to book a date with French side Sochaux in the last four without further alarms.

FC EGALEO (4-4-2): Biki?; Papoutsis, Edusei, Alexopoulos, Meidanis; Wanga (Chatzis 60), Skopelitis, Fotakis (Stefanov 69), Christou; Nikolopoulos (Agritis 45), Chloros. Subs (not used): Sidibé, Simeonidis, Antonetti, Psomas.

BOOKED: Christou.

GOAL: Chloros (24).

FULHAM (4-4-2): van der Sar; Ouaddoh, Harley, Melville, Goma; Davis, Legwinski (Goldbaek 70), Malbranque (Stolcers 75), Boa Morte; Marlet (Hayles 71), Saha. Subs (not used): Herrera, Knight, Collins, Sava.

GOAL: Marlet (34).

REFEREE: Ruud Bossen (Holland).


This report initially appeared in the 29 July 2002 edition of Sportscene