Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday April 9 2010
In the superbly named Volkswagon Arena, Fulham proved there was no gulf in class to smoothly progress to the semi-finals of the Europa League and a clash with Hamburg.
For the return leg, (Sir) Roy was able to call upon the services of Bobby Zamora after our top scorer made a recovery from his Achilles injury and boy was his selection to pay dividends.
With only twenty-one seconds played, Zamora added to his goal tally for the season with a fantastic goal. Collecting the ball, on the edge of the area, he performed a Johann Cryuff style turn to leave his marker bemused before slotting the ball past the keeper. It was Zamora`s sixth goal in his last seven European appearances.
Dream starts don`t come any better than that do they?
Having gained that crucial away goal so early on, Fulham looked as if they could kill the tie off very early on as they continued to take the game to the German side. Zoltan Gera saw a header saved by the keeper after an excellent cross from Damien Duff.
Wolfsburg, stung by the Fulham start, slowly began to drag themselves back into the fray but Mark Schwarzer was able to push away a shot from Barzagli before Grafite netted the rebound only to be flagged offside.
Fulham, not content to sit on their lead, pushed forward and Danny Murphy saw a shot, from fifteen yards, saved by the keeper. Wolfsburg tried to respond and had lots of possession but Fulham marshalled the opposition well. Knowing they had it all to do Wolfsburg took off a defender (Pekarik) and introduced a forward (Dejagah) and there were still ten minutes to half time.
Indeed, it was Dejagah that had their next opportunity, firing in a shot at the near post, but Aaron Hughes was alert and managed to block it. Fulham were winning 1-0 at half time and the job was half done.
The second half started just how Fulham would have liked it, quietly. When any attacks did get kick-started it was Fulham that were doing the pressing, Murphy produced a sublime bal for Zamora to run on to but his first touch wasn`t what it could have been.
Wolfsburg then brought on a face familiar to Premier League fans, Obefemi Martins, and the home side suddenly started to look as if they might get back into things forcing Schwarzer into a great save to deny Dzeko.
But, with time running down, Fulham had a glorious chance to put the tie firmly out of the reach of Wolfsburg. Damien Duff produced a fantastic pass that saw Simon Davies through, his shot was fierce but it somehow hit the trailing leg of the keeper and got deflected wide.
Murphy was the next to be given a golden chance but his shot was cleared, acrobatically, off the line by Barzagli. In the last desperate throes of trying to get back into the game, Dzeko struck a post and when Grafite thought he`d netted the rebound there was the outstretched leg of Brede Hangeland to kick the ball off the line.
What a fantastic experience this Europa League is turning out to be!
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Date:Friday April 9 2010
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