Fulham brutally demolished Norwich City in the Craven Cottage sunshine, wrecking the Canaries’ hopes of Premiership survival with a ruthless display. Nigel Worthington’s side needed to win to stay up on the final day but they never looked like pulling off a victory to complete a miraculous escape.
Fulham showed no mercy as they attacked from the off and glided through the visiting defence with ease. Brian McBride got the ball rolling the tenth minute and Papa Bouba Diop’s brilliant free-kick put more writing on the wall for Norwich. Zat Knight smashed home a rare goal after the break, before Steed Malbranque, McBride and Andy Cole completed the rout.
Norwich enjoyed a few early forays forward but never threatened the Fulham goal once they went behind. Tomasz Radzinski prised open the defence with a through ball and McBride rolled a low finish past the onrushing Rob Green. That was a hammer blow to Worthington’s hopes of survival and his side were further rocked when Diop curled a fabulous free-kick into the top corner from the edge of the box.
It might have been worse before the interval. Green pulled off three excellent saves to keep out strikes from Malbranque, Moritz Volz and then – outstandingly – tipping a close-range effort from McBride onto the crossbar. The pattern continued after the interval, although more desperate defending allow Knight to rifle home from the edge of the box after Norwich had failed to clear a corner.
Fulham looked like scoring every time they came forward. Luis Boa Morte tormented a demorilised defence with a rampaging run that eventually took him around Green and, when he cut an inviting cross back for Malbranque, the French midfielder tucked home with the help of a deflection. McBride added a second as he finished a flowing move with Fulham now playing some majestic football in the sunshine. Cole completed the scoring within three minutes of coming on as a substitute – poking in from a yard out in the final minute as Norwich’s misery was finally complete.
FULHAM (4-3-3): van der Sar; Volz, Bocanegra, Knight, Goma; Diop, Clark, Malbranque; Radzinski, Boa Morte (Cole 87), McBride. Subs (not used): Crossley, Rehman, Pearce, Pembridge.
GOALS: McBride (10, 86), Diop (35), Knight (54), Malbranque (72), Cole (90).
NORWICH CITY (4-4-2): Green; Helveg (Jonson 45), Fleming, Shackell, Drury; Bentley (Svensson 59), Safri (Holt 33), Francis, Huckerby; Ashton, McKenzie. Subs (not used): Ward, Charlton.
REFEREE: Steve Dunn (Gloucestershire).