Monday 23 October 2017

Warrior Karagounis prevents knockout blow

Fulham 1
Blackpool 1

Tom Prentki at Craven Cottage

Giorgos Karagounis struck a superb half-volley 11 minutes from time to spare a full-strength Fulham side the embarrassment of a third-round upset.

"He's not only a legend in his own country but he's a warrior for us," said relieved Fulham manager Martin Jol afterwards. "If you search on YouTube he's done it probably eight or nine times before."

Given the pervasive importance of Premier League survival, some eyebrows were raised even before kick-off here as Jol named the same 11 players that gained an important three points at West Brom last week.

"We play the same team all the time. I thought it was necessary for the signal to the team and the signal to the fans," said Jol. Even so, it was Blackpool who first threatened as Tom Ince, the subject of a recent bid from Liverpool, forced David Stockdale into an acrobatic save after 10 minutes.

"Liverpool made an offer two weeks ago and we haven't heard anything since. He's going through an indifferent period which I'd expect anyway given all the speculation going on," said Blackpool manager Michael Appleton. The Championship side were undaunted by this match assignment and Kevin Phillips's experience and Ince's youth ensured Stockdale had to make three excellent saves.

It came then as no huge surprise when Nathan Delfouneso squared for Ludovic Sylvestre to fire a first-time shot into the bottom right-hand corner and give Blackpool the lead after an hour. Fulham fought hard to find a way back and the equaliser was worth waiting for. Karagounis struck an irresistible looping volley past the hapless Matthew Gilks ensuring a trip to the seaside later in the month.

It may not be a trip they will relish given the playing conditions at Bloomfield Road. "It's as bad a surface as I've seen in the league," said Appleton, who jokingly referred to it as the "cow patch".


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