Fulham Under-19s were crowned Dr Pepper Dallas Cup champions on Sunday following an impressive 5-1 defeat of Kashiwa Reysol.
The Whites opened the tournament in the famous Cotton Bowl Stadium seven days ago, and closed the event in the same arena in style.
Coritiba, LA Galaxy, Eintracht Frankfurt and Fluminense had all been undone by Fulham’s attacking, free-flowing football and whilst their Japanese opponents had also caught the eye en route to the Final, they found Steve Wigley’s charges a handful from the off.
Muamer Tankovic set his side on the way inside 10 minutes, smashing the ball home following Sean Kavanagh’s delightful cross from the left. Cauley Woodrow, Ryan Williams and Lasse Vigen Christensen also played their part in the build up.
Fulham had the perfect chance to double their lead on 20 minutes after Woodrow was felled in the box. Unfortunately, though, the striker picked himself up only to see the Reysol goalkeeper make a great save from the spot.
Emerson Hyndman and Christensen tried their luck from distance, before the latter went even closer when moving the opposing goalkeeper into a superb sprawling stop on 30 minutes.
Reysol wrestled control away from Fulham as the first-half drew to a close, with the Japanese side impressing with their clever movement and ambitious passing. Marek Rodak had to be alert to two strikes from the edge of the box and another that edged on to the post following a deep free-kick from the left.
The Whites regrouped at the break, and their intent was rewarded when Woodrow swept the ball home from close range on 48 minutes. Fifteen minutes later, Woodrow made it 3-0 when meeting Kavanagh’s sublime pass and finishing smartly.
However, Reysol responded positively to remind Fulham of their threat, breaking through and making it 3-1 moments later.
Wigley’s team didn’t waver, though, and showed their undoubted spirit by pushing forward once more. As a result, three soon became four when substitute Jordan Evans (pictured) stepped off the bench to slot in following Josh Passley’s surging run and cross from the right on 78 minutes.
Fellow substitute George Williams got in on the act too, finishing coolly to make it 5-1 on 84 minutes and capping a fabulous presentation of football.
As the game edged to a close, Reysol looked totally shell-shocked, with little answer to the onslaught that had been waged against their goal. Victory and the subsequent trophy were wholly deserved, as captain Jack Grimmer led his side to this prestigious accolade.
Fulham’s youngsters have won back-to-back domestic honours, now they had proved they were a force to be reckoned with against the best from overseas – becoming the fourth English club to be crowned Dallas Cup champions following West Ham United (1992), Nottingham Forest (2002) and Liverpool (2008).
Fulham U19s: Rodak (Oberschmidt 86); Passley, Grimmer, Arthurworrey, Kavanagh; Christensen (Banya 86), Sambou (Minkwitz 75), Hyndman; Tankovic (Evans 75), Woodrow (Islamovic 80), R Williams (G Williams 70)
* News page image by Doug Fejer.