Fabulous Fulham Send The Old Lady Crashing Out Of Europe

European football occasionally throws up the odd freak result, but sometimes you witness a display of football brilliance so sharp it takes your breath away. Tonight, Fulham dazzled and displayed such panache against the tottering giants of Italian football, Juventus, that you had to check that things had really happened.

For a side who are enjoying only their second season of European football, tonight will be remembered as one of the sides greatest achievements. 3-1 down from a first leg that threatened to run away from them and incredibly 4-1 down when Trezeguet shot the Old Lady ahead after just two minutes, Fulham rose to the challenge and surpassed all expectations.

There is no doubt that Roy Hodgson is certainly writing a rather large chapter in Fulham’s history books and his continued success is testament to his ability, so often overlooked in England. After this latest success, there is no hiding from the fact that he has transformed Fulham from also rans to a dynamic football side. In just under two and half years, Hodgson has turned the Cottagers from relegation fodder to a fast improving side challenging for regular Europa League football.

Tonight, the watching Fabio Capello couldn’t have helped to be impressed by Bobby Zamora. He made Cannavaro look like he’d never played the game before tonight, despite his age. It was only a matter of time before Cannavaro, constantly struggling to cope with Zamora’s strength and power, would see red and when it happened, Juventus capitulated.

The cries for Zamora’s inclusion in the England squad will surely grow louder after this display. He’s clearly enjoying his best ever season in top flight football .With Crouch and Heskey struggling for form and goals and Carlton Cole finding fitness hard to come by, he could be a late inclusion for South Africa.

Three months ago, such a proclamation would be greeted with jeers, now it seems like common sense. His only problem would seem to be the lack of international football before now and the announcement of the squad. The newly announced friendly on May 26th would seem to be his only chance, but Capello likes players in form and Zamora is bang in the middle of a never ending purple patch.

The icing on the cake for Fulham tonight was supplied by Clint Dempsey with a wonderful goal to take them 5-4  ahead on aggregate. A sublime chip of real quality, it was a breath taking strike that deserved to win a World Cup final, never mind a last sixteen match in the Europa League. Another red card followed for the shell-shocked I Bianconeri as Duff was spitefully kicked by Zebina. Fulham fans couldn’t believe what they were witnessing, it was a footballing masterclass.

The re-emergence of Damien Duff too, who struggled for so long as Newcastle United slowly died a lingering death shouldn’t be overlooked. Having seemingly lost his way after leaving Chelsea, Duff has rediscovered the form that caused Chelsea to pay £18 million for the left winger back in 2004. It shouldn’t be understated that Hodgson was Duff’s first manager, the relationship now coming full circle. It seems to be a situation that has paid dividends for both of them.

Nights like tonight don’t come around too much for fans who support any other club outside England’s big four and there will be plenty of sore heads tomorrow morning in West London. For a club renowned for its friendliness, it’s a marvelous result that will be etched on every single fans collective consciousness forever. A fabulous advert for football and a complete anti-thesis to the performance seen at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday from the neighbours and rivals.

I truly wish the draw for the Quarter-Finals is kind to them, but after dispatching Juventus and defending champions, Shaktar Donetsk prior to that, I think teams will be wanting to avoid Fulham rather than the other way round. Congratulations to Fulham and I hope their fans soak in every minute of tonight, where can this European adventure take them? It was probably the best game I’ve seen all season and one of the best performances by an English club in Europe I’ve ever seen.

12 thoughts on “Fabulous Fulham Send The Old Lady Crashing Out Of Europe”

  1. I cried today. I’ve been following Fulham for 10 years now (it feels longer) and I never thought I would witness what I witnessed this afternoon.


  2. Roy Hodgson has got to be one of the best managers the PL has seen in a few years Fulham are one of the most remarkable success stories in a long time. Consider their position last year and now consider where they are this year and who they have beaten.

    The irony is some teams have spent hundreds of millions and not been able to replicate the results Fulham have got without spending anything. A real team is one composed of good players that are commited to the cause.

    I’m not a Fulham fan but I have followed the club closely this year and my admiration for Hodgson and this club and all its players is just overwhelming. I really hope they add a trophy to their cabinet this season because if they don’t it will be a grave injustice to a wonderful team.

    Fulham to win the Europa and cap a magnificant season with a good trophy.

  3. Hodgson is still not appreciated by most followers of the EPL. He kept Fulham up with some help from Brian McBride and they are no longer a regular on peoples list of teams to go down every year.

    I did not have the opportunity to see the game today but the Fulham fans have every reason to be proud. Especially after seeing a Chelsea team so poorly represent the EPL the other night English football needed this boost.

    Seeing the role Clint Dempsey played makes me proud and happy and feeling good about the USA’s World Cup chances.

    Anyone know how to see the game if you missed it. Too much NCAA BB action going on.

  4. Fantastic result by Fulham tonight. Every single player on the team worked his socks off, and it was truly a team performance.

    With Capello watching from the stands, Bobby Zamora really showed off tonight and he was man of the match in my opinion. His energy and passion to win was incredible. This is a player who is committed to the cause and is truly on fire right now. He has to be considered for the England 23 if he keeps this up.

    I’ve seen plenty of Fulham matches on telly before and one in person, and this was without a doubt the most passionate I’ve seen Fulham supporters.

    Congratulations on a well deserved win.

    Anyone else notice Juventus’s Zebina giving his Juve supporters the finger as he ran off the pitch?

    The Gaffer

    1. Gera was man of the match I think.

      Early in the year, Gera played the dark side (Chelsea) and looked like a bad weekend footballer – he cold not hold the ball, could not pass it, moved to the wrong areas. His game last night was a thing of class, imagination, beauty.

      Confidence is an incredible tool.

  5. I’m Fulham fan from America. I didn’t cry tonight (last night now). I’m damn proud of the team, staff, and club though, and giddy that all are moving on to the quarterfinals of the Europa League, and in such feel good fashion.

    Yay Fulham, way to bum that Old Lady last night. You stuck it to her good.

  6. I thought the match today was amazing. I got to the TV shortly after the redcard and was a little nervous about Fulhams chances to be honest.

    Normally I can point out a player or 2 that stuck out and played exceptionally well or better than others. However, when watching this game its hard to argue any single player being “the man of the match”. From front to back, to me it seemed like the Cottagers just plain dominated Juve. Gerra, Zammora, Davies, Duff, Dempsey, the whole back line, everyone. Seemed like motors were running 100% the whole game.

    I loved Hodgson’s reaction to Dempseys goal, he looked like he was in utter disbelief and shock that actually happend. He looked like he was gonna poop himself. Talk about an epic sub…As much as I would hate to see him leave Fulham, I think Hodgson has made a strong case for England to bring him on as the next manager. Capello is only really a short term fix, nothing aginst him at all, hes a brilliant manager. I just think England would be mad to not give him serious consideration after the body of work he’s done since he’s been with Fulham.

    Great article Paul B., its nice seeing Fulham steal all the headlines for a change. Sadly here in the US this has barely gotten any coverage outside of FSC. I vote you EPLtalk guys takeover ESPNsoccer net!! haha

    1. Thanks Patrick for the kind words. We try our best.

      It was a wonderful match to watch and Fulham looked on fire. So many twists and turns in this match from the moment when Juventus got the early goal when you thought it was over for Fulham, all the way to the wonderful goal by Dempsey to win the match.

      The Gaffer

  7. I have been following Fulham for three years now and I have even made it over for a fixture. I am soooo roud of this squad. I posted a few times previously that they may not be the biggest or badest team out there. But they have heart and lots of it! Roy is genious and everybody plays as a team instead of individuals! Keep up the good work boys!

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