Luis Boa Morte continued his fine goalscoring form as the Portuguese winger’s double lifted Fulham to fourth in the Premiership after a routine win over Leicester City.
Boa Morte scored either side of half-time to condemn the Foxes to their fifth defeat in their first eight league games to pile the pressure on former Fulham favourite Micky Adams. Such was the comfortable nature of their victory, Chris Coleman’s side could even afford to miss a first half penalty after a squabbling match between Louis Saha and Steed Malbranque and emerge with three points. The doom-laden predictions of a struggle against the drop for the Londoners appear well wide of the mark.
Fulham took a while to get into their groove here and Boa Morte was lucky to escape serious punishment after he lashed out at Frank Sinclair when the pair grabbled on the floor after a corner. Inevitably, it was the unpredictable winger who opened the scoring nine minutes before half-time. Malbranque and Clark combined impressively in midfield and, when the Frenchman’s fierce drive bounced back off the woodwork, Boa Morte was on hand to poke home the rebound from close range.
The Foxes could console themselves that their deficit wasn’t greater at the interval. It should have been after Chris Foy awarded Fulham a generous penalty, having adjudged that Saha had been impeded by Gerry Taggart in the box. Ian Walker saved a tame penalty from Malbranque, who had won the argument over who should take the spot-kick with his compatriot Saha.
Leicester almost made the most of that let off when they went close to a leveller six minutes after the break. Taggart glanced on Alan Rogers’ long throw but Marcus Bent contrived to flash a finish agonisingly beyond the far post. Adams turned to his bench, sending on Les Ferdinand and Paul Dickov to supplement Bent and Scrowcroft in attack, but that only served to give Fulham’s forwards more room to operate in. Both Saha and Malbranque passed up good chances to increase the home side’s advantage, before Boa Morte made sure of the points.
Malbranque was the creator, setting Boa Morte clear down the left flank with another precise pass. The ex-Arsenal winger’s first effort was bravely blocked by Rogers, but he got up off the floor to ram home the rebound – via the unfortunate Walker’s body – and settle the contest. Leicester might have had a consolation in the closing stages when Ferdinand looked destined to score from close range, but van der Sar pulled off an astonishing save.
FULHAM (4-3-3) van der Sar; Leacock (Djetou 81), Bonnissel, Knight, Goma; Pembridge, Pembridge, Clark, Inamoto (Legwinski 64); Malbranque, Boa Morte, Saha (Hayles 84). Subs (not used): Crossley, Melville.
BOOKED: Knight, Goma.
GOALS: Boa Morte (36, 73).
LEICESTER CITY (4-4-2): Walker, Sinclair, Taggart, Howey (Dickov 61), Rogers; Impey, Izzet, Nalis (Ferdinand 61), Scimeca; Bent (Gillespie 77), Scowcroft. Subs (not used): Coyne, Stewart.
REFEREE: Chris Foy (Merseyside).