Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Thursday February 25 2010
On a glorious night in the Ukraine it was Fulham that defied the odds to go through to the next round of the Europa League, 3-2 on aggregate.
Donetsk, the holders of the UEFA Cup will look back on the opening thirty minutes as the time they should have taken several of the opportunities that fell their way before Fulham slowly started to make the battle more level.
In a strange quirk of fate both managers chose the same starting eleven`s as they had done for the first leg at Craven Cottage and it was Fulham that were to get the game started.
Donetsk though were on fire in those opening exchanges. As early as the first minute Mark Schwarzer was forced to save from Adriano and then minutes later Schwarzer had to react smartly to tip a long range drive from Willian over the bar.
Donetsk then forced three corners in quick succession, all were admirably defended by the Fulham defence before, on the ten minute mark, Jedson scuffed a shot wide after a brilliant passing move had opened up the Fulham defence.
The pressure, on the Fulham goal continued and Fernadinho was the latest to force a save out of Schwarzer before Willian again tested the Australian between the sticks.
It seemed to be only a matter of time before the defence was breached but Donetsk were at fault for going with long range shooting instead of working it into dangerous areas. Rat screwed a shot wide and Rokitskiy saw a long range shot turned around the post by Schwarzer.
As we reached the half hour mark Kucher was the latest to fire over from distance before, three minutes late, Fulham silenced the home crowd by scoring. It was our first serious excursion forward and when Zamora was fouled by Rokitskiy, Duff`s sublime cross into the danger area was glanced home by Brede Hangeland.
The goal stunned Donetsk who were no longer, for the remainder of the half, able to generate that attacking style of football that had troubled us earlier on. In fact it was Fulham that carved out another opportunity, albeit audacious, when Zamora tried a shot from a very long way out.
Donetsk started the second half at the same pace they`d started the first but Fulham were defending well and soaking up the pressure without leaving Schwarzer exposed.
Six minutes into the half Schwarzer was forced into action though when he had to save an Adriano header. Nine minutes later, with Donetsk struggling to create an opening, they brought on a young Brazilian called Douglas Costa, he was later to have an impact.
Before he did though, in the sixty-fourth minute, Fulham wasted a glorious chance to double their lead when a break involving Duff and Zamora saw Zamora produce a poor pass that if it had fond Zoltan Gera would have resulted in a goal.
The miss was to prove dangerous as Donetsk upped the pressure. Hangleand was forced to hack clear after a Rokitskiy shot was only parried by Schwarzer and then a minute later the game was level on the night.
A dramatic burst of speed, on our left flank, by Douglas Costa saw the youngster pull the ball back into the path of Jedson who beat Schwarzer from six yards out. It really was game on now.
Buoyed by the goal, Donetsk poured forward and Jedson fired wide although it did appear that the ball struck the arm of Chris Baird on the way through. With time running out and two minutes of normal time left Baird fired a thirty yard free kick wide but in the last minute of normal time Gera had a golden chance to seal victory for Fulham.
The Donetsk defence opened up and Gera was through but his shot went just the wrong side of the post. Fulham now had four minutes of stoppage time to navigate but it was to be four dramatic minutes.
Duff was scythed down by Ilsinho who also appeared to elbow him in the back of the head as he went down, a yellow card was shown but Danny Murphy was obviously seething and after a tangle near the corner flag, kicked out, and was probably, quite rightly sent off. A sad end to a great night as Fulham march on.
A glorious night for Fulham Football Club
Date:Thursday February 25 2010
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