Ex-West Ham man opened scoring with a stunning finish before adding a second with his head. A third was added late on by Etuhu to leaving Tangerines in trouble
All the talk before the match was of Fulham’s new tribute to the ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson, and the home team certainly seemed like they wanted to be starting something, attacking with vigour early on.
Damien Duff came close to opening the scoring in the 15th minute, latching onto Bobby Zamora’s knockdown before his shot was tipped onto the post by Blackpool keeper Richard Kingson.
There was nothing Kingson could do in the 23rd minute, however, when Zamora was set through on goal with a fabulous pass – unfortunately for Blackpool by their very own James Beattie.
Zamora made no mistake with the finish, hitting it hard and high past the Ghanaian and into the roof of the net.
And only five minutes later, Zamora bagged a second for Fulham.
Duff was teasing his opponents in the right corner before an unnecessary challenge from Stephen Crainey earned a free-kick. Duff picked himself up before delivering a fabulous ball in that Zamora calmly nodded into the far corner, albeit with the help of a deflection off Craig Cathcart’s back.
The half seemed to be petering out before Blackpool almost got a foothold back in the game in the 42nd minute.
A seemingly innocuous long-ball travelled all the way into Fulham’s area, but as Mark Schwarzer came to clear, Beattie got to the ball first, flicking it over the head of the Australian keeper towards goal.
The ball was heading straight in, only for a timely intervention from Chris Baird, chasing back to head the ball off the line.
But as the half-time whistle blew, Fulham looked comfortable, with Blackpool’s main conspirator Charlie Adam looking quiet and only displaying small flashes of the brilliance he possesses.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, however, Adam began to exert some dominance, winning and taking dangerous free-kicks, one of which was inches away from finding an onrushing Blackpool attacker.
Zamora thriller | Bobby makes it look as easy as ABC at the Cottage
His range of passing was being finely displayed as well, with one inch-perfect 50-yard-pass sweeping out to the left-wing, before another one was played to Beattie wide on the right before the veteran striker stole a march on his marker and clipped the outside of the post.
A minute later Clint Dempsey almost put the match beyond Blackpool, as his deflected shot was just about kept out by Kingson, though he didn’t seem to know too much about it.
Blackpool were finally cut adrift in the 73rd minute, and though they lacked an incisive edge, a 3-0 score-line was terribly harsh on the Tangerines.
A Danny Murphy free-kick was headed against the post by Dempsey, again looking dangerous in attack, and Brede Hangeland picked up on the rebound to place the ball across the six-yard-line for Dickson Etuhu to knock the ball into an unguarded net.
Fulham weren’t content with three either, pushing on for more goals in front of an appreciative home crowd.
The confidence had left Ian Holloway’s side, and his main problem after this match will be trying to get his players in the right frame of mind for their next fixtures, home matches against Arsenal, and an all-important six-pointer against Wigan.
Their misery was complete in injury time, with Cathcart missing an easy opportunity to score a consolation goal from a Charlie Adam free-kick. Then a shot from Adam was beaten away by Schwarzer, but only to the feet of Gary Taylor-Fletcher. His follow-up was skewed wide with the goalkeeper still on the floor, summing up their day.
For Fulham, two difficult away trips to Old Trafford and Molineux await, but following this result they are six points clear of the relegation zone, and should conceivably be safe.
The end-of-season spirit was in full effect inside Craven Cottage 10 minutes before the end, as a fan dressed in a faux-Michael Jackson get-up saw fit to dance up and down the stand before making a swift exit, much to the delight of the Fulham faithful, celebrating a big step in the right direction.