|Second-half goals from Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff handed Fulham the advantage in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final at Craven Cottage.|
Assist by Bobby Zamora
Bobby Zamora Card was given for a foul
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
This UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final first leg got off to a cagey start with both sides looking evenly matched in the opening exchanges. The threat posed by Wolfsburg’s strike duo of Grafite and Edin Dzeko was evident early on as the pair looked sharp in possession.
Fulham soon settled into the game and built a number of promising attacks in wide positions, with Damien Duff and Simon Davies on the Fulham right flank the chief architects. They were soon joined by Paul Konchesky who, as the first-half went on, started to venture forward with greater confidence down the left.
Making his Europa League return following suspension, Danny Murphy was back in central midfield pulling the strings. However Mark Schwarzer was called upon to make the first save of the game when Christian Gentner managed to squeeze an effort through Fulham’s back line on 20 minutes.
Zoltan Gera then forced Wolfsburg keeper Diego Benaglio into an awkward looking stop a minute later when he hit a wicked swerving effort that momentarily wrong-footed the keeper.
Fulham started to turn up the pressure and Clint Dempsey warmed Benaglio’s palms with a well-struck 20-yard effort which the keeper could only parry wide. Another good Fulham opportunity soon presented itself when Bobby Zamora cut the ball back in the penalty area only for the pass to narrowly miss its intended target.
Grafite wildly blazed over on 32 minutes after seizing on a loose ball 18 yards out. The German Champions certainly had attacking intentions but their final ball frequently let them down.
As the first-half drew to a close there were bursts of applause for the excellent work being carried out by Zoltan Gera in defence. Twice the Fulham front man dispossessed his opponents deep in Fulham territory – whilst being able to still threaten as an attacking force.
Edin Dzeko headed wide early in the second-half after finding himself unmarked in the Fulham penalty area. Another chance followed for Wolfsburg soon after when Grafite hit a shot straight at Mark Schwarzer, which the Fulham keeper did well to hold on to.
Fulham appeared to ride out the initial storm and struck back when Dempsey got on the end of a Fulham passing move only to see his shot blocked by a desperate lunge. Fulham were starting to fight fire with fire as their attacks struck ever deeper into Wolfsburg territory. And that was in large part due to three outstanding pieces of defending from Aaron Hughes, who was pivotal in snuffing out a number of Wolfsburg attacks.
Fulham took the lead through who else than Bobby Zamora on 59 minutes. Zoltan Gera played a penetrating pass to Zamora in an advanced position. Zamora took the ball down, shifted back inside two defenders before curling an exquisite finish past Benaglio on 59 minutes.
Zamora turned provider minutes later when he set up Damien Duff for Fulham’s second goal of the evening. The in-form striker touched the ball back to Duff who smashed a low shot into the net from the edge of the area, sending the Fulham fans wild.
Sitting on a two-goal advantage, Fulham dropped the pace of the game as the game entered the final 20 minutes. Wolfsburg introduced a familiar face on 73 minutes when Obafemi Martins came on for Peter Pekarik.
Danny Murphy was replaced by Chris Baird on 86 minutes as Roy Hodgson looked to add some fresh legs to his hard-working midfield unit.
Wolfsburg turned up the pressure late on and netted a vital away goal when Alexander Madlung headed firmly home from six yards from a short corner to set up an enticing second-leg in Germany.
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Date: Thursday 1 April 2010
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Referee: Damir Skomina
Line-up: Schwarzer; Davies, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky; Duff, Murphy (Baird 86'), Etuhu, Dempsey; Gera; Zamora
Unused substitutes: Zuberbühler, Smalling, Bjorn Helge Riise, Greening, Nevland, Elm
Team line-up is not available.