HAMBURG (0) v/s FULHAM (0)
FULHAM goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer admitted the West Londoners had been drained by an epic coach journey to Germany after holding Hamburg to a draw in the first leg of their semi-final.
Schwarzer excelled, making several crucial saves, as the Cottagers came through a testing 90 minutes that they spent mainly on the back foot.
Fulham threatened only sporadically, although their efforts were not helped by the loss of striker Bobby Zamora to an Achilles injury just after half-time.
The Premier League side were also disadvantaged by having had to make the 600-mile journey by road, due to the flight ban caused by volcanic ash, and Schwarzer admitted the trek had taken its toll as the match wore on.
“The trip was well documented, and we were a bit tired in the legs, but in the end it’s a good performance,” he said.
“We’ve done fantastically well to limit them to so few chances and it’s a really admirable performance that gives us hope for the return leg.”
Having already seen off holders Shakhtar Donetsk, German champions Wolfsburg and Italian giants Juventus in a European adventure that has far exceeded expectations, Fulham will approach the return leg with some confidence.
However, they will need to pose a greater threat at Craven Cottage than they did at the HSH Nordbank Arena, which coincidentally will host the final on 12 May.
Schwarzer was alert early on to save at the feet of former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, but really shone in the closing stages, when he pulled off a string of stops.
The Australian tipped over from Jonathan Potroipa and Piotr Trochowski, blocked a David Jarolim drive and finally stopped Mladen Petric’s late effort.
Fulham’s best efforts came when midfielder Zoltan Gera saw a shot deflect just wide and fit-again Clint Dempsey had a penalty appeal turned down in the second half.