Dempsey winner sends Cottagers into dreamland
Fulham 4 Juventus 1 (Fulham win 5-4 on aggregate)
Friday 19 March 2010
A scoreline that will reverberate around Europe, a night that will never be forgotten by those who were there – including a stunned Fabio Capello. One west London club, it seems, can best an Italian giant, and how.
When David Trezeguet scored after 90 seconds to put Juventus 4-1 ahead on aggregate last night Fulham's European adventure looked set for an ignominious end. But Bobby Zamora quickly scored to restore hope, and when Fabio Cannavaro was controversially dismissed for a professional foul after 27 minutes the Old Lady of Turin crumbled. Zoltan Gera struck either side of the break to level the aggregate scores before Clint Demsey, eight minutes from time, put Fulham into dreamland, and one of the great clubs of Europe into despair.
And disgrace. Juventus ended with nine men, Jonathan Zebina also being dismissed as they lost their discipline. Caretaker coach Alberto Zaccheroni can now forget any aspirations of a permanent role, which may have ramifications for Liverpool.
Fulham's night began inauspiciously. As Diego and Stephen Kelly tussled for a loose ball Brede Hangeland hit his clearance against the pair. The ball rolled to Trezeguet 12 yards from goal. "Trezugol" has been one of the great goal poachers of his generation and his finish put Juventus ahead.
But Roy Hodgson has imbued this Fulham side with a doughty spirit. Beforehand Zamora spoke disparagingly of Cannavaro, captain of Juventus and Italy, and former World Player of the Year. Having talked the talk, he walked the walk. Zamora brushed Cannavaro over as he rose to chest down Paul Konchesky's cross then lash in a volley. Game on.
Cannavaro's response was to wrestle opponents, but when Zamora slipped a pass through to Gera Cannavaro grappled once too often. For once the contact seemed slight but the referee Bjorn Kuipers had no hesitation in sending off the man who lifted the last World Cup.
Antonio Chimenti, Juve's 39-year-old third-choice keeper, made a flying save to deny Zamora from the free-kick that followed Cannavaro's exit but was motionless 10 minutes later when Simon Davies curled a dead ball on to the bar. From Davies' corner Dickson Etuhu headed against the post.
Juventus were unable to maintain possession in the face of Fulham's pressing, or restrain the home team who played with verve and panache. Felipe Melo will be Brazil's holding midfielder at the World Cup alongside Gilberto Silva. He is still coveted by Arsenal. Yet sitting in front of the Juventus back four last night he appeared overwhelmed by the movement and energy in front of him.
The pressure finally told six minutes from the break. Konchesky rolled a pass into Zamora whose first-time flick over his marker's head released Davies. The Welshman cut the ball back and Gera turned his cross into the roof of the net.
Playing against 10 is sometimes difficult, but Fulham's tactics were perfect, using the width of the pitch and rotating the ball swiftly. This paid further dividends as Gera released Duff with a neat backheel. Diego stuck out a hand to block Duff's cross, Kuipers saw it, and Gera converted the penalty.
Trezeguet then escaped to disturb Mark Schwarzer and remind Fulham to be careful, though Chimenti was stretched by Davies, Dempsey and Gera. With extra time looming Dempsey delivered the coup de grâce with a disguised lob that stranded Chimenti.
Juve took defeat badly, Zebina being sent off for aiming at kick at Duff and Melo lucky not to follow him for hacking at Zamora. When the final whistle came the celebrations were lengthy. This was not the club's most important victory, that was at Portsmouth two years ago when they escaped relegation, but it is the most startling.
Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Kelly (Dempsey, 71), Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Duff, Baird, Etuhu, Davies; Gera (Riise, 84); Zamora. Substitutes not used: Zuberbühler (gk), Nevland, Smalling, Marsh-Brown, Dikgacoi.
Juventus (4-1-2-2-1): Chimenti; Salihamidzic, Zebina, Cannavaro, Grosso (Del Piero, 85); Felipe Melo; Camoranesi (De Ceglie, 51), Sissoko; Candreva (Grygera, 28), Diego; Trezeguet. Substitutes not used: Pinsoglio (gk), Iaquinta, Poulsen, Marrone.
Referee: B Kuipers (Netherlands).
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