An enthralling night of FA Cup football at Craven Cottage saw Fulham book a Sixth Round tie against Manchester United.
Swansea took the lead early in the second half through Jason Scotland but Fulham equalised with a Clint Dempsey diving header. The Whites continued to apply pressure and Bobby Zamora scored the crucial goal on 81 minutes.
Roy Hodgson elected to field a strong side for this FA Cup replay, making only two changes from Sunday’s winning line-up with Olivier Dacourt and Erik Nevland stepping in for Danny Murphy and Andy Johnson.
Swansea started the match looking to reproduce the passing play they demonstrated throughout the original fixture at the Liberty Stadium and they were certainly enjoying some success in the opening exchanges. Playing with both Mark Gower and Nathan Dyer hugging the touchlines, Swansea’s tactic of hitting the wide men before touching the ball back infield to a runner was clear from the off.
However, the Whites appeared to adjust to the Swans’ play well and began to increase their share in the possession stakes.
A foul on Bobby Zamora in the 22nd minute just outside the Swansea penalty area saw Clint Dempsey send a powerful rising effort just over Dorus De Vries’ crossbar. Soon after, a free kick on the edge of the Fulham box from Jordi Gomez spurred Mark Schwarzer into action as the keeper dived down to his left to smother the deflected effort.
An increase in the pace from Fulham soon followed and the Craven Cottage crowd responded as the Whites started honing their sights on goal. A 33rd minute counter attack led by Simon Davies, who ran some 80 yards with the ball before squaring to Zamora, ended with the striker twisting and getting a low shot on target.
Erik Nevland was presented with a good scoring opportunity on 36 minutes after Zamora’s flick-on set the Norwegian free. However with the ball bouncing high, Nevland did well to direct a powerful shot on goal with his left foot which De Vries was equal to.
For the second time two matches Brede Hangeland struck the woodwork from a Simon Davies corner as Swansea’s back line was living ever more dangerously.
Swansea made a fine start to the second half taking the lead on 46 minutes throughJason Scotland. The Whites allowed Mark Gower plenty of time down the left flank and the Swansea player cut inside and picked out Scotland in the area. The striker took a touch and drilled a low shot into the net from 12 yards.
Erik Nevland missed a good chance to equalise three minutes later when he was played in by Zamora, unfortunately the striker sliced the ball wide. With a real cup tie atmosphere in the air the Whites set about getting back on level terms and Clint Dempsey’s left-footed strike on 51 minutes just whistled past De Vries’ right hand post.
Fulham were forced into a change on 58 minutes when Danny Murphy replaced the limping Olivier Dacourt. Zoltan Gera also came on, replacing Erik Nevland. The change in personnel saw Clint Dempsey move into attack alongside Zamora.
The game continued at a pace with Dempsey narrowly missing out on a chance to test De Vries on 66 minutes - whilst Fulham’s defence was also on the verge of opening up for Nathan Dyer. The action soon switched to the other side where Danny Murphy missed a good opportunity from the edge of the six yard box, putting the ball just over the angle of the goal.
Somehow Swansea escaped a hat-trick of Fulham shots in the 70th minute. The ball was worked to Bobby Zamora whose shots were twice blocked by De Vries before Dempsey’s effort was also changed down. Without doubt the Swansea goal was leading a charmed life.
An equaliser was certainly in the pipeline and it was no surprise when Clint Dempsey levelled with a diving header from a Simon Davies corner kick on 77 minutes.
Dempsey was set free one-on-one with De Vries on 80 minutes but the American’s effort was blocked by the feet of the Swansea keeper. Fulham maintained the momentum, the ball was put back into the box by Simon Davies and Bobby Zamorawas lurking to plant a firm header into the back of the net.
The momentum sung back in Swansea’s favour following the goal and a series of corners had Fulham’s back line scrambling to clear. However the Whites maintined their composure and saw the remaining minutes out without incident.
Competition: The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON
Date: Tuesday 24 February 2009
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Team line-up is not available.
Team line-up is not available.