Mark Viduka marked his debut with his first Middlesbrough goal as Steve McClaren’s side recorded their first win of the season at Fulham and climbed out of the bottom three.
The Australian international made a strong first impression on the Middlesbrough faithful as he scored ten minutes after the break, making up for having to sit out the first two games of the season having been banned whilst still at former club Leeds. The new Boro man was left criminally unmarked to guide home a precise pass from strike partner Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink after the former Chelsea forward was set away by Gaika Mendieta.
Any hope Fulham had of mounting a comeback was dashed with twelve minutes left when Szilard Nemeth fired home an inviting cross from Franck Quedrue to send the travelling fans wild. It was no less than Middlesbrough deserved, especially as Viduka had passed up the best opening of the first period, driving an effort straight at Edwin van der Sar after Boulo Zenden had put him in the clear.
Fulham posed little threat in a tepid first half with their likeliest moments coming through Tomasz Radzinski, whose pace caused Boro problems down the left. The Canadian almost worked an opening for Andy Cole but Mark Schwarzer was alert to the danger. Chris Coleman cut a frustrated figure on the touchline as Fulham subsided softly in the second half.
FULHAM (4-3-3): van der Sar; Volz, Bocanegra, Goma, Knight; Diop (Boa Morte 74), Legwinski, Jensen; John (McBride 62), Radzinski, Cole. Subs (not used): Crossley, Bonnissel, Pembridge.
MIDDLESBROUGH (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Parnaby, Quedrue, Riggott, Southgate; Boateng (Doriva 89), Mendieta (Nemeth 77), Parlour, Zenden; Viduka (Job 71), Hasselbaink. Subs (not used): Nash, Cooper.
GOALS: Viduka (54), Nemeth (79).
REFEREE: Dermot Gallagher (Oxfordshire).