|Fulham booked their place in the Final of the UEFA Europa League with a memorable victory over Hamburg at Craven Cottage on Thursday evening.|
Assist by Danny Murphy
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
Mladen Petric gave the home side the lead with a first-half free kick, but a second-half strike from Simon Davies levelled matters. Zoltan Gera netted in the 76th minute to secure a historic win.
Played amidst a cauldron of sound, this historic encounter got off to an entertaining start. Bobby Zamora was declared fit to play and John Pantsil also made a return to Europa League action.
The first chance of the evening fell to Zamora in the second minute after he exchanged passes with Zoltan Gera on the edge of the Hamburg area. Despite having the ball trapped under his feet somewhat, Zamora was able to get a shot on target which the scrambling Frank Rost managed to smother.
The Whites where certainly looking a more potent force in attack early on as their second corner of the match on seven minutes found the head of Brede Hangeland but sailed over Rost’s bar. But Hamburg soon came out of their shell and proceeded to enjoy a spell of useful possession which produced a dangerous corner and some teasing passes into the Fulham penalty area.
Prompted by Ze Roberto, the Hamburg midfield started enjoying good possession in the wide areas, with their play down Fulham’s left flank in particular causing some problems for the Whites. Much of their success was down to the advanced positioning of wingers Robert Tesche and Jonathan Pitroipa – who were playing almost in line with Van Nistelrooy and Mladen Petric.
Hamburg took the lead on 22 minutes when a surging run from Ze Roberto was unceremoniously ended by Danny Murphy 30 yards from goal. Mladen Petric stepped up and smashed a thunderous effort past Schwarzer to give the German side the lead and the all-important away goal.
The Whites battled to gain a foothold in midfield but the ever busy David Jarolim was proving to be an influential figure in Hamburg’s defensive efforts. But as the first-half drew to a close Fulham started firing closer to the mark.
The second-half started at a frantic pace as Fulham raced out of the blocks in search of a much needed equaliser. The ongoing tussle between Zamora and Jerome Boateng looked set to be one of the key factors in determining the success of Fulham’s attacks.
Elsewhere on the pitch, the war of attrition continued along the same lines as the first-half. Hamburg maintained high levels of pressure on the Whites high up the pitch, preventing Roy Hodgson’s men working the ball through to the danger areas with the care they would have liked.
Clint Dempsey replaced Bobby Zamora on 57 minutes as Roy Hodgson looked to give Fulham’s attack a different leading edge.
Backed by a highly vocal Craven Cottage, Fulham started to turn the tide and put Hamburg under pressure. Jerome Boateng could consider himself lucky to have stayed on the pitch on 61 minutes when he scythed Zoltan Gera down near the corner flag – the defender escaped with a yellow card. From the resulting free kick Damien Duff almost diverted Paul Konchesky’s low delivery into the net.
With Fulham committing more players forward, Hamburg’s threat on the counter-attack grew as did Jonathan Pitroipa’s influence.
Fulham got back on level terms on 69 minutes when Simon Davies latched on to a perceptive chipped through-ball from Danny Murphy, turned past his marker in the box before finishing past Rost - sending the Craven Cottage crowd wild. Game on.
John Pantsil made way for Erik Nevland in the 74th minute as Roy Hodgson added another attacking option to the field. Simon Davies moved to right back as Nevland joined Dempsey in attack.
Zoltan Gera netted the dramatic winning goal on 76 minutes when he was able to control the ball in the area before spinning on the spot and firing a crisp shot past Frank Rost.
Fulham continued to press as the game entered the final ten minutes as Hamburg started to look tired from their frantic early pace.
The Whites professionally saw out the remaining minutes – booking a historic Final in Hamburg.
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Date: Thursday 29 April 2010
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir
Line-up: Schwarzer; Pantsil (Nevland 74'), Konchesky; Murphy; Hughes, Hangeland; Duff, Etuhu; Zamora (Dempsey 56'); Gera; Davies
Unused substitutes: Zuberbühler, Smalling, Bjorn Helge Riise, Greening, Dikgacoi
Team line-up is not available.