Mladen Petric struck twice to turn Fulham’s fortunes around in their final match of the pre-season tour of Germany against Kaiserslautern.
The 31-year-old pounced from close range to ensure the Whites finished the week-long tour unbeaten after the Red Devils, relegated from the Bundesliga last year, gave Martin Jol’s side an early scare in Weingarten.
After slipping two goals behind when Ilian Micanski struck on eight minutes and Albert Bunjaku headed in six minutes later, Petric combined superbly with Marcello Trotta to pull a goal back.
The heavens opened and an electrical storm held up play after the break, but Petric proved as fast as lightning to grab the leveller.
With Martin Jol opting for a two-man front-line, Trotta retained his place following his two-goal performance against Lokomotive Leipzig, alongside Petric.
And it was the Croatian who almost worked the first opening on six minutes, nearly latching on to Mahamadou Diarra’s well-weighted through ball but goalkeeper Tobias Sippel was quick to race out and clear.
Two minutes later, Kaiserslautern strung together their first meaningful attack. Micanski’s run was well timed to collect Julian Derstroff’s pass but his finish was even better, striking high into Mark Schwarzer’s top corner.
Derstroff was the provider once again for FCK’s second on 14 minutes, his whipped left-wing cross glanced inside the far post by Bunjaku – but the Whites offered the best possible response to going two behind.
Petric carried the ball forward with purpose, before playing a smart return pass with Trotta and calmly delivering a deft chip over grounded goalkeeper Sippel on 20 minutes.
The Whites’ midfield diamond worked hard to swing the momentum back in Fulham’s favour, as Trotta volleyed over from a tight angle and Alex Kacaniklic’s trickery almost carved open a shooting chance.
Schwarzer needed to be alert to deny his former club before the break, diving full-length to palm away Kostas Fortounis’ drive, but a change in shape at half-time pushed the Whites back into the ascendency.
Mesca, who replaced Trotta, made his presence felt instantly when the young winger’s cross was turned on to his own crossbar by Jan Simunek but, 12 minutes into the second half, referee Christian Dingert ordered the players off as a thunderstorm brewed.
Seven minutes of lightning flashes later, the game was back up and running with Kerim Frei, on for Bryan Ruiz, aiming to spark a response. That response arrived when Kacaniklic left his marker standing and delivered a pin-point cross for Petric, who timed his run perfectly to finish into the near post on 66 minutes.
The Whites piled on the pressure in the closing 10 minutes, with Petric playing in Frei, who forced a fine save from Sippel, before Steve Sidwell’s powerful header dropped narrowly wide, and the referee brought proceedings to a close.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise (Briggs 69); Kacaniklic (Davies 69), Diarra (Sidwell 45), Etuhu (Baird 69), Ruiz (Frei 52); Trotta (Na Bangna 45), Petric.
Date: Saturday 21 July 2012
Referee: Christian Dingert
Team line-up is not available.
Team line-up is not available.