Juventus 3 Fulham 1
Fulham left themselves a mountain to climb if they wish to progress into the last eight of the Europa League after suffering a 3-1 loss in Turin last night.
Roy Hodgson made one change from the eleven that started against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup on Sunday with Paul Konchesky coming in for the illegible Nicky Shorey.
Fulham were also without the services of Danny Murphy who was serving a suspension after being given a straight red card in the previous round. Juventus, meanwhile, fielded five World Cup winners in their side, testament to the quality of the opposition we were facing.
Unfortunately, the Stadio Olimpico di Torino was far from packed with a mere 11,406 inside.
It was the home side that started the better and Mark Schwarzer had to produce a good save from a David Trezeguet header from some sixteen yards out. But, with only 9 minutes played Fulham did fall behind.
Our hosts had won a corner and when the ball was floated into the box Nicola Legrottaglia powered a header downwards and into the roof of the net.
A goal down Fulham tried to get back on level terms and Simon Davies, presented with a half chance after Damien Duff had played a ball in produced an air shot, much to his embarrassment.
Juventus always looked dangerous and one lightening counter-attack saw Trezeguet almost score from twenty-five yards with a fierce shot. With twenty-five minutes played Fulham conceded a second goal.
It came after Jonathan Zebina eluded the challenges of Davies and Dickson Etuhu before striking a shot, from twenty-five yards out, past Schwarzer. Fulham now had it all to do to rescue the situation.
Fulham were having difficulty carving out clear cut chances thanks to some terrific Italian defending but with thirty-six minutes completed they got a lucky break to get themselves back into the game.
The home side cleared a Davies free kick only for Dickson Etuhu to unleash a shot that took a deflection of Legrottaglie and beat Alex Manninger in the Juventus goal. An away goal, could it be priceless?
Pushing forward, Bobby Zamora saw his drive, from the edge of the box saved and as half time approached it looked as if Fulham had weathered the storm. Unfortunately Juventus had other ideas.
Fabio Gross produced a fine save out of Schwarzer before, three minutes into stoppage time, the home side opened up a two goal lead again. David Trezeguet saw his shot hit the post but his reactions were like lightning and he somehow contorted his body to guide the ball into the corner.
For the second half Juventus introduced Mauro Camoranesi in place of Hasan Salihamidzic and it was the home side that had the first opportunity when Diego broke forward but fluffed his shot.
Desperately trying to get back into affairs, Fulham drove forward and when Etuhu picked out Duff and his cross was heading towards Zamora only smart defensive work thwarted us.
On the hour mark Roy Hodgson introduced Clint Dempsey in place of Davies and it was great to see the American back after his injury woe. Fulham exerted a little spell of pressure but once again the Italian defence held firm with Fabio Cannavaro playing a leading role.
Juventus, searching for a fourth goal that would kill the tie off, almost got it when Vincenzo Iaquinta unleashed a shot only to see it balloon high and wide. Another scare saw Claudio Marchiso burst into the box but a poor touch saw the Juventus player lose the opportunity.
In the final minutes Diego forced Schwarzer into a save with a twenty-five yard free kick whilst Iaquinta headed wide from a decent position.
Fulham have it all to do in the second leg but it is not an impossible mission!