Saha returns to haunt Fulham

Fulham 1 Everton 3

Louis Saha came back to haunt his former club by scoring one of two last-gasp goals for Everton at Craven Cottage.

Substitute Bryan Ruiz netted a brilliant equaliser – his first goal for Fulham – to cancel out Royston Drenthe’s early long-range effort.

Ruiz, who had only been on the pitch for three minutes, collected Clint Dempsey’s pass and delightfully lobbed Everton keeper Tim Howard from the left-hand edge of the penalty area.

But, after Bobby Zamora missed an open goal, Fulham were punished when Saha held off Aaron Hughes and fired in off the post, before Jack Rodwell hit the net with a thumping volley.

Dutchman Drenthe, making his first Premier League start, got Everton off to a flying start by lashing home a blistering effort from outside the box after being picked out by Rodwell.

Zamora missed an open goal

And the Merseysiders almost doubled their lead when Rodwell headed wide from a cross by Leighton Baines, who then crossed for Marouane Fellaini to also go close with a header.

Clearly buoyed by his earlier strike, Drenthe tried his luck with another rasping shot that took a deflection before being gathered by keeper Mark Schwarzer.

Fulham were struggling but then suddenly came to life, with John Arne Riise volleying just over the Everton bar, skipper Danny Murphy sending a 25-yarder against the post, and Howard pulling off a good save to deny Dempsey.

Murphy was back in the Fulham side after missing the Europa League defeat against Wisla Krakow because of a knee strain.

Dempsey was rested for Thursday’s game along with Zamora and they returned as part of eight changes from the team that lost in Poland, with Schwarzer, Brede Hangeland and Moussa Dembele the only men to start both matches.

And two of the returning players combined to almost equalise when Hangeland’s header from Murphy’s corner brought another excellent save from Howard.

Everton brought on Saha soon after the break but it seemed he would be upstaged by his ex-club’s deadline-day signing, whose superb 67th-minute leveller showed why he was brought to Craven Cottage.

Ruiz has struggled to adapt to English football since the Costa Rican’s big-money move from Dutch club FC Twente, but his goal was a moment of pure class.

Schwarzer appeared to have denied Saha the final word when he produced a fine save to keep out the Frenchman’s late shot.

But there was a twist in the tail. Zamora latched onto Andrew Johnson’s pass and side-stepped Howard only to shoot over, and Fulham were made to rue that incredible miss when Saha and Rodwell struck in stoppage time.