|Fulham recorded a memorable victory over current UEFA Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk at the Cottage courtesy of a goal from Zoltan Gera and a spectacular strike from Bobby Zamora.|
Assist by Zoltán Gera
Danny Murphy Card was given for a foul
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
The Whites got the game off to a fantastic start; a Damien Duff free kick had Shakhtar in trouble almost immediately off the bat, allowing Brede Hangeland to aim his header on target and forcing a fine save from Pyatov.
The Whites took the lead only moments later when a wonderful piece of deceptive play from Bobby Zamora allowed European specialist Zoltan Gera in on goal. The Hungarian international made no mistake with his finish, slotting a low shot under the body of Pyatov to hand Fulham the lead.
But there were soon nervy moments for Fulham when Brede Hangeland was robbed of possession on the touchline by Fernandinho, who raced away towards the Fulham by-line. Fortunately his cross was blocked by Aaron Hughes and the danger was averted.
The game settled down somewhat following Fulham’s flying start and it was Shakhtar who were dictating the pace of the game. Their unorthodox 4-2-3-1 formation looked to be keeping the Whites off balance.
The visitors, despite not being able to find space in front of Fulham’s penalty area, still looked extremely adept in possession as they worked the ball from left to right with great skill. Fulham stood firm however and stoically maintained their shape.
Darijo Srna, who previously faced the Whites in European competition with Hajduk Split, went close to netting an equaliser when he fired wide on 30 minutes. It proved to be just a warning shot as Adriano got the visitors back on level footing on 32 minutes. The striker raced on to a through ball, nipping in front of Stephen Kelly before taking the ball around Mark Schwarzer and passing into the net.
The game started to open up following the equaliser and Simon Davies came close to putting the Whites back in the lead when his header from a Damien Duff cross flashed just wide of the goal.
A loose ball from Danny Murphy was almost capitalised upon by Willian, who seized possession and let fly with a fierce shot which was well blocked by Hughes. Fulham’s Northern Ireland international was again Fulham’s saviour when he provided a vital interception on 40 minutes to cut out a dangerous final pass.
The Craven Cottage crowd were whipped up into frenzy when Darijo Srna was booked for dissent in the closing stages of the first-half, having been fouled moments before.
Shakhtar got the second-half under way, with Fulham facing a tough task in trying to wrestle the advantage from their opponents. And it was certainly a cautious start from the visitors as they looked to draw Fulham’s sting, having learned their lesson from the first-half.
With the visitors quick to try and prevent Fulham from linking up their defence and midfield, the Whites duly adapted to the circumstances and started played a slightly more direct game. As a result, Fulham were able to get at Shakhtar’s defence with greater speed – causing a degree of panic in the Miners’ back line. Shakhtar were by no means looking as fluid as they did in the first-half.
With the game repeatedly punctuated by stoppages, both sides were struggling to get into their rhythm. If anything was going to decide this game, it was going to be a moment of brilliance or a calamitous error.
As the second-half progressed Fulham started to establish more of a rhythm, it was achieved by making the game more ‘English’ in nature.
The high tempo Fulham were setting was personified by Damien Duff on the right wing, who was keeping his opposing numbers busy.
The Whites re-took the lead in spectacular fashion through Bobby Zamora on 63 minutes. Zoltan Gera passed into the path of Zamora on the edge of the area and the Fulham font man smashed a glorious right-footed shot past Pyatov into the top corner of the net.
A fine move between Baird and Duff set up Gera with a headed chance which was put just wide – Fulham were certainly pressing their advantage. When not in possession the Whites were keeping things tight. This saw Shakhtar hitting more long passes out of play in an attempt to find a way through Fulham's lines.
With the game entering the final ten minutes Shakhtar started to force their way back into the game, but resilient defending from Hangeland and Hughes helped restrict the Ukrainians to shots from distance.
Zoltan Gera’s involvement ended on 88 minutes when he was replaced by David Elm as Fulham looked to see out the remaining minutes.
The result was secured when a world-class save from Mark Schwarzer denied a certain equaliser late on and despite the energetic efforts of Mircea Lucescu’s men, Fulham heroically held of for a memorable victory.
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Date: Thursday 18 February 2010
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Referee: Serge Gumienny
Line-up: Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Kelly; Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Davies; Gera (Elm 88'); Zamora
Unused substitutes: Zuberbühler, Smalling, Marsh-Brown, Bjorn Helge Riise, Greening, Nevland
Team line-up is not available.