Tuesday 21 January 2020

Hodgson ecstatic as Fulham soldier on

Shakhtar Donetsk 1
Fulham 1
(Fulham win 3-2 on aggregate)

John Ley in Donetsk

IN Premier League terms, Fulham may be less fashionable than the 'big four' but, in the cauldron of the Donbass Arena, they produced one of the most impressive performances in this or any other season to send the Uefa Cup holders out and secure an unlikely last-16 berth in the Europa League.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg, Fulham added a third goal through Brede Hangeland in a rare attack and then withstood an orange and black onslaught from Shakhtar, surviving until the 70th minute when Jadson gave the home side fresh hope.

Yet Fulham survived, even though they finished with 10 men after Danny Murphy became their fourth player to be red-carded in Europe this season, for a late challenge on Darijo Srna.

And the emotion of the evening even affected the normally cucumber-cool Roy Hodgson, who later apologised for his furious rant at Douglas Costa, following Murphy's dismissal.

Hodgson targeted Douglas, believing he had challenged Damien Duff, when in truth it was Ilsinho, who was booked for the robust challenge.

Hodgson said: "It has been a wonderful night for the club. Shakhtar showed what a good team they are; their ability to pass and keep the ball is as good as I've seen in my 35-year career. The only thing that marred the evening was the sending-off of Danny Murphy, who had a very good game."

Regarding his outburst Hodgson added: "I thought it was a bad foul on Damien Duff but if ever you let your emotions get the better of you it's not good and inexcusable."

Mircea Lucescu, Shakhtar's Romanian coach, was unhappy that the referee was Norwegian. He said: "I didn't like the referee, he was from Norway and Fulham had players from there. I saw them hugging afterwards and I didn't like that."

Mark Schwarzer, the Fulham goalkeeper, was outstanding, making the first of several superb saves, from Willian. Shakhtar continued to press and Fulham were relieved when Jadson side-footed a good chance wide.

Yet Fulham, so typically this season, overcame adversity to stun the home crowd when, in the 33rd minute, they took the lead, extending their advantage to 3-1 on aggregate.

Bobby Zamora won a free-kick on the right and from Damien Duff's perfect delivery, Hangeland flicked his header into the top corner.

The pressure eventually told, in the 70th minute, when Douglas fed Jadson and he found the bottom corner.

In added time, Murphy was dismissed and will miss the next tie at least, but that should not cloud one of the proudest nights in Fulham's history. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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