Facundo Sava scored the only goal as Fulham’s fine start to the Premiership season continued as Jean Tigana’s men ended Charlton Athletic’s unbeaten away record. The Argentinian forward stabbed home from six yards out after Dean Kiely had saved from Steed Malbranque before donning a mask in a celebration borrowed from his time in Gimnasia la Plata, where he was dubbed ‘Wolfie’.
The Whites began brightly and should have gone ahead inside the first two minutes when Steve Marlet hit the post with a header before Luis Boa Morte blasted wide after a strong run down the left wing. Marlet was furious after not being awarded a penalty having been caught by Mark Fish inside the box – before Fulham’s intensity dropped.
Charlton largely nullified the home side’s penetration from their pretty passing until nine minutes before the break. Steed Malbranque looked the likeliest source of a moment of inspiration and Kiely probably should have done better than parry the Frenchman’s shot from the edge of the area back in the danger zone, from where Sava followed up to fire home. The Whites were good value for the lead, but they should have been pegged back in stoppage time at the end of the first half when Shaun Bartlett surged clear of the Fulham defence only to try and feed John Robinson rather than shoot. That decision allowed Edwin van der Sar to save smartly from the experienced midfielder.
Charlton did improve in the second half, but struggled to create clear-cut chances. Jason Euell lashed a drive over the bar before turning creator for Barlett, only for the South African striker to smash an effort against the crossbar – when it appeared easier to score from close range. Alan Curbishley sent on Kevin Lisbie and Jonathan Johansson in an attempt to engineer a way back, but Fulham’s resolute rearguard kept a clean sheet as Tigana’s men hung on to claim all three points.
FULHAM (4-4-2): van der Sar; Ouaddou, Brevett, Knight, Melville; Davis (Wome 67), Legwinski, Malbranque, Boa Morte (Inamoto 64); Marlet, Sava (Hayles 74). Subs (not used): Taylor, Collins.
GOAL: Sava (36).
CHARLTON ATHLETIC (4-4-2): Kiely; Young (Johansson 83), Rufus, Fish, Powell; Robinson, Mustoe, Jensen, Konchesky (Lisbie 66); Euell, Bartlett. Subs (not used): Rachubka, Kishishev, Fortune.
BOOKED: Rufus, Euell.
REFEREE: Jeff Winter (Cleveland).