Fulham stepped their pre-season preparations up to another level as Marcello Trotta’s first-half double sparked the win over German outfit Lokomotive Leipzig.
Handed a starting berth, Trotta seized his opportunity to score twice before the interval and Mladen Petric and Lauri Dalla Valle both calmly stroked in second-half goals to clinch victory over the fifth-tier amateurs.
In a town dominated by the 40,000 seater Red Bull Arena – home of city rivals and moneybags Red Bull Leipzig who play in the same division with all professional players – there was an electric charge among the 5,000-strong Blue and Yellow support as kick-off approached.
The neighbours who usually take a backseat were soaking up their moment in the spotlight, welcoming their first European visitors to the 100-year-old Bruno Plache Stadium.
The phoenix club – re-born in 2002 from the ashes of Vfb Leipzig, a force in German football during the late seventies and early eighties – started in confident spirits and an important last-ditch challenge by Mesca Na Bangna prevented a goalscoring opportunity for Andre Stratmann.
The Whites soon clicked into their groove and Alex Kacaniklic would have opened the scoring on nine minutes when he met Mesca’s cross but goalkeeper Christopher Gang reacted well to block.
With Kacaniklic and Mesca getting well behind their opposing full-backs, Fulham looked dangerous in wide areas and, after a smart combination between Sascha Riether and Mesca, Trotta was free to slot through the legs of the advancing keeper on 22 minutes.
It could have been two for Trotta moments later when a counter-attacking Kacaniklic found him unmarked but the Italian lifted his delicate chip too high, before an unmarked Steve Sidwell headed wide from a pin-point Mesca cross.
The hosts almost had their moment to savour but Markus Krug could only head past the post from a corner, but the visitors showed them how it’s done on 37 minutes when Trotta belted in his second from 20 yards from Kacaniklic’s delivery.
Lokomotive were restricted to speculative efforts as they went into the second half searching for a route back into the game and, after Martin Jol made nine half-time changes, the Whites took time to settle.
A terrific interception by Brede Hangeland denied Rico Engler as he bore down on goal but other openings were few and far between for the hosts. Kacaniklic and Frei switching between playing off the striker allowed Fulham space in the middle and their swift movement help create our third goal.
From Frei’s neat through pass, Petric raced onto the ball and dumied his shot. The keeper went to ground, leaving the Croatian striker to dance around another challenge before slotting home his first goal in a Whites shirt.
The visitors controlled the remainder of the game and when Simon Davies’ 83rd-minute cross found Mahamadou Diarra at the far post, his header was turned in by Dalla Valle six yards out.
But the fourth goal never stopped the bumper home crowd enjoying the occasion as the Whites left the pitch to appreciative applause.
Fulham, First Half: Stockdale; Riether, Hughes (c), Halliche, Riise; Etuhu, Gecov, Sidwell; Na Bangna, Trotta, Kacaniklic.
Second Half: Schwarzer; Riether (Brister 70), Baird, Hangeland, Briggs; Davies, Dembele, Diarra, Kacaniklic (Dalla Valle 70), Petric, Frei
Lok Leipzig: Gang, Krug, Bachmann, Werner, Kittler, Stratmann, Walthier, Grandner, Engler, Wenclschuh, Brodkorb.
Date: Wednesday 18 July 2012
Venue: Bruno-Plache-Stadion, Leipzig
Referee: Lars Albert
Team line-up is not available.
Team line-up is not available.