Blackburn Rovers 2 Fulham 1

Last updated : 20 August 2005 By Footymad Previewer
Stunning volleys from Morten Gamst Pedersen and Tugay got Blackburn Rovers up and running for the season at home to Fulham.

Tugay had only been brought into the team in place of the injured Aaron Mokoena and his second-half strike is already an early contender for goal of the season.

With Paul Dickov suspended and Craig Bellamy missing with a thigh injury, Shefki Kuqi made his league debut at Ewood Park on his own upfront.

Fulham registered the first shot on goal, a swerving Luis Boa Morte effort from distance, but it was Rovers who dominated all of the opening exchanges - with Pedersen, Kuqi and Brett Emerton all going close early on.

Rovers continued to press, with Pedersen and Emerton supporting Kuqi at every opportunity.

And on 14 minutes, Rovers took the lead with undoubtedly the move of the game. Tugay started it off deep inside his own half, before the ball was played out wide to Lucas Neill. The Australian exchanged passes with Emerton and Steven Reid, before finding Kuqi down the right.

The Finnish international's cross to the back post was met by Pedersen on the run and without breaking stride, the Norwegian lashed home the volley off the underside of the bar.

Fulham's best chance of the half arrived ten minutes before the break. A Niclas Jensen free-kick from the right, following a foul by Tugay, was met with a powerful header by Papa Bouba Diop, which forced a smart reaction save from Brad Friedel.

Like their visit to West Ham last week, Rovers were caught napping right at the start of the second half. Boa Morte won a free-kick for the visitors on the left, which was played quickly to Jensen in oceans of space.

As the ball was played in, Brian McBride stole in front of his marker Andy Todd to steer the ball past Friedel. In the second half, chances were few and far between with Kuqi and Pedersen coming closest form consecutive corners.

And minutes later Rovers were back in front. Neill dinked a clever ball over the top for Emerton, whose volley was palmed around the post.

From the resulting corner Pedersen floated the ball out to the edge of the box where Tugay was stood waiting to smash home the volley 20 yards out.

Neill saw an effort come back off the crossbar in the 86th minute as Rovers held out for the win.

Man of the Match: Lucas Neill – The Australian wing-back gave an energetic display, having a hand in both Rovers goals before seeing a late effort hit the woodwork.