BLACKBURN manager Steve Kean accused Mark Schwarzer of a “nasty challenge” after Rovers midfielder Junior Hoilett was left unconscious and needing stitches during the battle of the early-season strugglers.
The injury to Hoilett came as the visitors pressed for a winner in stoppage time at Craven Cottage, where they took the lead through Spanish youngster Ruben Rochina only for Bobby Zamora to level for Fulham.
David Ruiz, Fulham’s £10.5m record signing, endured a miserable debut and was withdrawn at half-time of a match in which neither side did enough to claw their way out of the relegation zone.
“He has got three or four stitches on the side of his head and was out for a few minutes, so he’s concussed,” Kean said of Hoilett’s tussle with Schwarzer. “It was quite a nasty challenge. I was expecting him to send him off. At the time, and at the pace it happened, I thought it would be a red card. Schwarzer thought it might result in a goal, so he went all out for it. Hoilett, too.”
Fulham manager Martin Jol defended Ruiz, a deadline-day signing from Dutch outfit FC Twente, and insisted the Costa Rican forward would need time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League.
“He will provide that cutting edge in time, but in football you have to be realistic. You could certainly see in the first half that there was some quality, but the pace is different,” he said. “Bryan has to get used to the English game and cope with it, and he’ll certainly do that. There are a lot of foreigners who never cope with that, but he’s an intelligent guy who wants to achieve things with us.”
By the time Ruiz was withdrawn, for Moussa Dembele, Fulham had fought back from conceding in the 32nd minute, when Hoilett cut back for Rochina, a former Barcelona youth player, who rifled into the top-right corner via the crossbar.
Zamora needed just six minutes to make amends, shrugging off Rovers defender Gael Givet as he cut in from the right wing and curling a left-footed shot in off the far post.
Midfielders Danny Murphy and Clint Dempsey both forced saves from Paul Robinson as Fulham pressed but the biggest talking point of the second half proved Hoilett’s collision with Schwarzer.