FULHAM will have to pull off arguably the greatest result in their 131-year history when Juventus visit Craven Cottage next week if their European adventure is to continue after a chastening defeat in Turin.
Juventus justified their status as heavyweights and took a huge step towards the Europa League’s last eight with first-half goals from Nicola Legrottaglie, Jonathan Zebina and David Trezeguet.
Dickson Etuhu’s deflected response earned Fulham a cherished away goal, but despite their formidable home record the Cottagers face the toughest of challenges to upset the odds and reach the quarter-finals.
“We did enough in the game to show we’re not out of the tie and we certainly weren’t disgraced in any way here,” said boss Roy Hodgson. “The bitter pill to swallow and the bitter pill we’re going to be carrying for the next week is that third goal, which I thought was very unnecessary.”
Defeat marked a miserable return to Italy for Hodgson, who has enjoyed spells in charge of Inter Milan and Udinese. He barely had time to savour the occasion before his team fell behind in the ninth minute, Legrottaglie leaping unmarked to head home Diego’s corner.
Poor defending by the visitors was again to blame when the two-time European champions extended their advantage in the 15th minute. Antonio Candreva was able to hold up the ball 18 yards out before Zebina brushed off Simon Davies and rifled past Mark Schwarzer. Etuhu’s lucky reply, which took a huge ricochet off Legrottaglie, sparked a revival, and suddenly Fulham were peppering the Juve goal. But Trezeguet reasserted the Italians’ dominance in first-half stoppage time, following up after his own shot had hit a post.