Blackburn Rovers won for the first time in ten Barclays Premier League matches with a 2-0 victory over Fulham at Ewood Park. The win, secured by goals at set-pieces from defenders Chris Samba and captain Ryan Nelsen, moved Rovers up into 12th place in the table while defeat meant that Fulham remain in ninth spot.
The loss was compounded for Fulham after the Londoners had United States international Clint Dempsey (knee) and Paul Konchesky (ankle) leave the field through injury.
South Africa's Benni McCarthy, who was involved in both goals, troubled Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the 25th minute with a 20-yard shot that the Australia international palmed away. McCarthy scuffed the ensuing corner, but Rovers old boy Damien Duff, on the near post, miscued his clearance and, from six yards out, Samba scored by poking the ball past Schwarzer.
Fulham, however, responded with some positive play and Dempsey was unlucky not to equalise when a spectacular overhead kick crashed against the crossbar before forcing Paul Robinson into a save with a low shot from 12 yards out.
Rovers, however, doubled their lead nine minutes after half-time when McCarthy's whipped free-kick proved too much for the Fulham defence to handle and New Zealand international Nelsen headed past Schwarzer.
McCarthy might have had a goal of his own when a long-range free-kick just skimmed over the crossbar, but by then League Cup semi-finalists Rovers were well on the way to their first league win since November.