AM (2) v/s HAMBURG (1)
Fulham win 2-1 on agg
PROUD Roy Hodgson told how his Fulham side had pulled off a “major piece of history” after coming from a goal behind to reach a first-ever European final.
The epic campaign, which spans 18 games and includes scalps such as Juventus, Wolfsburg and holders Shakhtar Donetsk, looked like coming to an end when Mladen Petric’s brilliant 30-yard free-kick gave the Germans a vital away goal against the run of play.
But second half strikes from Simon Davies and Zoltan Gera completed a memorable fightback and put the seal on the most famous night in the club’s 131-year history.
That accolade will be eclipsed when Fulham return to Hamburg on 12 May for the final against Atletico Madrid, but Hodgson, for now, was just happy to savour the moment.
“After going a goal down against the run of play, I think we’ve made a major piece of history here tonight,” he reflected. “That atmosphere is something I think we’ll all remember for a long time. I’m a little bit drained of emotion at this particular moment in time – you go through a bit of a rollercoaster out there.
“I’ve had two and bit years now where I know the players are never going to let me down and are always going to go out and try to do the things we practice. In a semi-final I suppose they could be excused for losing their heads or losing their discipline, but they didn’t do it tonight.”
After holding Hamburg to a goalless draw in the first leg, Hodgson was in the hunt for goals and gambled on the fitness on 19-goal Bobby Zamora, who was clearly still suffering from an Achilles injury.
Fulham started brightly enough but were left stunned on 22 minutes when Danny Murphy hauled down Ze Roberto 30 yards out and Petric somehow beat Mark Schwarzer with a curling shot into the top corner, meaning Fulham now needed two goals.
Zamora lasted less than an hour as Fulham seemingly ran out of ideas in the attacking third, but like several other times during this astonishing run, they never gave up hope.
Indeed, on 69 minutes, Murphy chipped the ball forward for Davies, who brilliantly turned past Guy Demel and fired past Frank Rost.
Then, seven minutes later, Davies’ corner cannoned off Demel and Gera slammed home from close range to send Craven Cottage into delirium.
Hamburg threw everything forward in a desperate final few minutes but Fulham deservedly held on to complete a remarkable night.