Inamoto seals Baggies victory
By Lewis Rutledge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
A wonder goal from Junichi Inamoto sealed a 3-2 win for West Brom over Fulham.Junichi Inamoto came back to haunt his former club with a spectacular 35-yard winner in extra time.
In a match that failed to ignite until deep into the second half, West Brom managed to hold off Fulham 3-2 at Craven Cottage.
West Brom made the perfect start, Robert Earnshaw seizing on some very casual defending to open the scoring after just three minutes.
After a tussle in midfield the ball broke towards the Fulham box, but there should have been no danger as Fulham had plenty of bodies back. However, Zat Knight had failed to stay with his man, and Earnshaw latched on to the ball with a free run on goal and coolly lofted the ball over the onrushing Tony Warner.
Fulham were shellshocked, and while West Brom allowed the home side the majority of possession, The Baggies comfortably soaked up the pressure and continued to look dangerous on the break.
Nwankwo Kanu had the chance to double the advantage towards the end of the first half, the lively Earnshaw heading back across goal from a corner and finding the Nigerian, whose own header was acrobatically tipped over by Warner.
Chris Coleman's side had to wait until the stroke of half time for their first real chance of the game.
An inswinging free kick from the left found Zeshan Rehman five yards out, but the Pakistan international guided his free header just wide of the post.
Fulham, who had made eight changes to their starting line-up from Saturday's Premiership game against Liverpool, had clearly not identified the Carling Cup as a priority, and began the second half with no more urgency than the first.
They were lucky to escape minutes after the resumption when Warner had a rush of blood to the head and charged out to try and reach a long ball before the chasing Earnshaw, but the Welshman rounded the keeper and struck towards goal.
Zat Knight managed to clear the ball off the line, but, with Warner still stranded outside the area, a Darren Carter volley needed Knight to be alert again, and he headed to safety.
West Brom have been leaking goals all season though, and after controlling much of the game, the tie was turned on its head by a Luis Boa Morte equaliser (63).
Steed Malbranque found some space in midfield, and slid an inviting pass straight down the centre, catching West Brom's defence napping and providing Boa Morte with a golden opportunity, which he took with aplomb, calmly placing the ball into the bottom corner.
The leveller seemed to bring Fulham to life, and the tempo of the game increased dramatically. Challenges started to fly in, and the sides traded chances, substitute Collins John proving a real nuisance to the Baggies back line.
Just as it seemed the game was going into extra time, a terrible mistake from Fulham keeper Warner looked to have handed victory to West Brom.
After receiving a routine back pass, Warner touched it forwards five yards too far, and Kanu could not believe his luck as he rounded the keeper and scored a simple goal.
There was even later drama, though, as a glancing header from Heidar Helguson rescued the home side in the last minute.
After a frantic start to extra time, Junichi Inamoto came back to haunt his former club, firing West Brom into the lead for the third time with a screamer from 35 yards that flew into the top corner (99).
Fulham desperately tried to get back into the game, but the visitors resolutely withstood a late barrage and held on for a victory that was just about deserved.
Click below for match summary
|Fulham||Team Statistics||West Bromwich Albion|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|5||Shots on Target||5|
|4||Shots off Target||5|