Thursday 3 December 2009, 8:05pm at Craven Cottage, London
UEFA Europa League
Fulham FC
Fulham
1
Gera 14'
CSKA Sofia
CSKA Sofia
0
Fulham win an exciting contest 1-0 against CSKA Sofia.

14' Goal

Zoltán Gera
Assist by Bjorn Helge Riise

41' Yellow Card

Chris Baird Card was given for a foul

81' Yellow Card

John Pantsil Card was given for a foul

8' Missed Penalty

Danny Murphy

46' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Aaron Hughes
Off:Brede Hangeland

69' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Clint Dempsey
Off:Simon Davies

77' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Damien Duff
Off:Danny Murphy

0
15
30
45
60
75
90

Zoltan Gera's first-half header proved to be enough to give Fulham all three points on Thursday evening at the Cottage.  The Whites looked dominant in the first-half, creating a number of opportunities and even seeing Danny Murphy miss a penalty.  But CSKA Sofia grew stronger as the second-half wore on and in the end, Fulham were thankful for the final whistle.

This vital encounter got off to a lively opening. The Whites, with Bobby Zamora back up front, started brightly applying pressure to the Sofia back line but it was the Bulgarians who came closest to drawing first blood in the opening minutes when Todor Timonov struck the crossbar with a looping effort.

Fulham could have struck back in the 8th minute when Zoltan Gera was brought down in the area. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Unfortunately, and somewhat uncharacteristically, Danny Murphy scooped the ball over the bar. The atmosphere stepped up a further notch despite the miss.

The visiting defence were certainly having problems dealing with the physical presence of Bobby Zamora, with the Fulham front man looking impressive leading the line.

Zdravko Chavdarov was earning his money and he was called upon on 13 minutes to claw away a strong shot from John Pantsil. But the CSKA keeper was picking the ball out of the net just a few moments later when Zoltan Gera handed Fulham the lead just before the quarter hour mark. The Hungarian midfielder had the relatively simple task of heading into the net after a pinpoint cross from Bjorn Helge Riise from the right side of the penalty area.

Fulham’s back line continued to look untroubled with Hangeland and Smalling mopping up any Sofia attacks. Indeed, Smalling almost doubled Fulham’s lead just after half an hour when he headed wide from a Simon Davies corner.

Davies was next to try his luck and was just a whisker away from getting his name on the score sheet when he rolled a low, left-footed shot wide after good link-up play from Zamora.

Zoltan Gera was on the receiving end of a nasty looking elbow on 34 minutes after going up for a header with Viktors Morozs. The CSKA midfielder led with is elbow and caught Gera flush in the face – receiving a yellow card for his troubles.

Even though both sides were employing a similar 4-5-1 formation, Fulham’s line-up was a more attacking shape, with Riise, Gera and Davies all quickly joining Zamora in attack.

Aaron Hughes was a half-time replacement for Brede Hangeland as Fulham got the second-half underway attacking the Hammersmith End. The opening exchanges of the second-half were more balanced than the early moments of the first-half but Fulham soon started moving the ball well in front of the CSKA defence.

With Zamora the lone man up front, many of Fulham’s attacks were built off Zamora’s flicks to the supporting midfielders.

CSKA Sofia’s best spell of play came in the 54th minute when a sweeping move culminated in Stoyanov slicing the attempted cross into the stand. Nevertheless, the attack gave CSKA additional confidence going forward.

Spas Delev volleyed narrowly wide on 58 minutes as the Fulham back line started looking decidedly nervy.

Fulham were momentarily without Simon Davies after the Fulham winger looked like he may have twisted his knee in tackling Stoyanov. The referee incurred the wrath of the Johnny Haynes Stand faithful by impatiently insisting that the stricken Davies be removed from the field during his medical assessment.

Davies’ involvement ended soon after when Clint Dempsey replaced him on 69 minutes.

Fulham’s incursions up field were becoming more sporadic as Sofia were looking a more organised unit and were starting to pull the Fulham back line out of shape with greater regularity. Those early missed chances were looking all the more costly for the Whites.

Fulham switched to a more conventional 4-4-2 line-up as the game approached the final 15 minutes. Damien Duff replaced Danny Murphy for the final 12 minutes. The Irish international winger joined Zamora up front as Gera and Dempsey moved to the wings and Baird and Riise took up position in the middle of the park. 

A series of corners almost saw CSKA net the equaliser following a claim for handball by the visitors. The ball fell to Yanev whose goal-bound shot was well blocked on the line by Duff. CSKA were certainly finishing the much the stronger side. Fortunately the Whites were able to hold out for all three points.

Match Information

Competition: UEFA Europa League

Date: Thursday 3 December 2009
Kick-off: 8:05pm

Venue: Craven Cottage, London

Fulham

Line-up: Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hangeland (Hughes 46'), Smalling, Kelly; Davies (Dempsey 69'), Gera, Murphy (Duff 77'), Baird, Bjorn Helge Riise; Zamora

Unused substitutes: Stockdale, Briggs, Saunders, Uwezu

CSKA Sofia

Team line-up is not available.

Fulham (4-5-1)
  • 1Mark Schwarzer
  • 4John Pantsil
  • 5Brede Hangeland
  • 26Chris Smalling
  • 2Stephen Kelly
  • 29Simon Davies
  • 11Zoltán Gera
  • 13Danny Murphy
  • 6Chris Baird
  • 17Bjorn Helge Riise
  • 25Bobby Zamora
Substitutes
  • 12David Stockdale
  • 17Matthew Briggs
  • 18Aaron Hughes
  • 16Damien Duff
  • 31Matthew Saunders
  • 23Clint Dempsey
  • 40Michael Uwezu
CSKA Sofia (TBA)
    Substitutes