Tigana hails fantasy goal

Wednesday 14 August 2002

Fulham put on a gritty display in Italy by twice fighting back to ensure a 2-2 draw against Bologna.

Exactly eight years ago to the day, Fulham were kicking-off a new season in the Third Division under the guidance of Ian Branfoot.

On that occasion the Whites managed a 1-1 draw with Walsall. How many of the 5,308 supporters at the Cottage that day would have predicted Tuesday's night's events?

With Bologna finishing 7th in last season's Serie A campaign, surely the match must go down in the history books as one of Fulham's great performances.

After going a goal down to Giuseppe Signori's spot kick, Japanese international, Junichi Inamoto levelled the scores with a sublime effort. Having won the ball back with a biting challenge, Inamoto skipped his way past two defenders to place his shot past former Italian 'keeper Gianluca Pagliuca.

Speaking at the end of the match, manager Jean Tigana was delighted with Inamoto's contribution:

"It was a very English challenge from Inamoto to win the ball and then it was a fantasy goal. It's pretty good when a player does that just after you bring him on."

Of course, those who were watching the World Cup over the summer would know that it's not the first time Inamoto has netted a vital goal.

"That was just as important as the one against Belgium because they were both in games my team could not afford to lose," Inamoto said after the match.

The result leaves Fulham in a strong position ahead of the vital second leg at Loftus Road, with two away goals in the bag, the onus will be on Bologna to take the game to Fulham.

With over 20,000 home fans cheering their team on, Tigana took time to pay a special tribute to his players' mental resolve:

"This was a big step and I hope it will be another big step in the next game," said Tigana.

"There was a real atmosphere and some of their players can cheat and provoke and try to disturb my team but we played very well throughout."

Nonetheless, Bologna coach Francesco Guidolin refused to concede defeat as he dramatically proclaimed: "We didn't die tonight. If we are to die, we will die in London."