Martin Jol opted to start this UEFA Europa League qualification match with a strong line-up for the visit of NSI Runavik.
If the early exchanges were anything to go by, the visitors looked up for the encounter. Pauli Poulsen’s men started with an understandably defensive 4-5-1 formation but his side maintained their shape impressively whilst Fulham dominated early possession.
Matthew Briggs, playing at left-back, regularly demonstrated his eagerness to get forward on the overlap and deliver crosses into the box.
Damien Duff had the first shot of note for the Whites on 22 minutes when he managed to work some space for himself on the edge of the area and hit a crisp drive just wide of Andras Gango’s right hand post.
Justinus Hansen caught a glimpse of goal on 25 minutes and elected to try his luck with an audacious shot from 30 yards which had Schwarzer scrambling across his goal line. But such forward forays were rare occurrences for the visitors.
Damien Duff handed Fulham the lead in the 33rd minute after Simon Davies found space on the left flank, exchanged passes with Bobby Zamora before feeding a pass to Duff who fired past Gango from the edge of the area.
Despite conceding the opener, Runavik were not to be deterred from their defensive duties as they maintained their composure at the back.
Andreas Gango produced a wonderful fingertip save just before the stoke to half-time, tipping Bobby Zamora’s free-kick over and ensuring his side reached the interval just one goal down.
Fulham made a strong start to the second-half with Andrew Johnson warming the palms of Gango with a crisply struck shot from 10 yards. The NSI keeper was again called into action minutes later, producing a smart clawing save to divert Zamora’s shot behind.
The tempo of Fulham’s play certainly increased following the interval as the pressure began to mount on the Runavik goalmouth.
Danny Murphy added the second for Fulham from the penalty spot on 61 minutes after Helgi Petersen brought down Simon Davies in the penalty area with a clumsy challenge. The Fulham captain calmly sent Gango the wrong way to double the Fulham lead.
Simon Davies made way for Bjorn Helge Riise on 68 minutes. The Norwegian international took up his position on the right side of Fulham’s midfield.
Andrew Johnson netted Fulham’s third of the evening on 70 minutes when he received a well-weighted pass from Zamora and hit a low drive inside the Gango’s far post. The chances continued to come for the Whites and Zamora could have made it four had the ball not got trapped under his feet.
Lauri Dalla Valle made his Fulham debut on 78 minutes when he replaced Bobby Zamora. The young Finnish striker almost marked his first appearance in a White shirt with a goal but he just failed to make contact with Matthew Briggs’ low pass across the face of the six yard box.
The Whites played out the rest of the encounter well in control, taking a healthy three-goal lead into the second leg.