Dempsey's double puts Fulham on way

Fulham3 Dnipro 0

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The Independent Football

The Europa League may be something of an inconvenience to some English clubs, but Fulham rather enjoy the Continental adventure. The 2010 finalists all but booked a place in the group stages of this season's competition with a comfortable win over Ukrainian opposition.

Three goals in 11 minutes either side of half-time, one from Aaron Hughes and two from Clint Dempsey, provided a useful cushion for the second leg in six days' time.

It was an immensely satisfying victory for Martin Jol over the man who replaced him as Tottenham manager four years ago, Juande Ramos. The Spaniard made his name in this competition, steering Seville to successive triumphs, but although he lifted the Carling Cup with Tottenham his career has become peripatetic since, also passing swiftly through Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow.

Dnipro began brightly enough, showing the slick ground-passing common among good sides from the former USSR, but soon faded. Fulham took a while, however, to penetrate the visitors defence, Jan Lastuvka only tested once in the first half hour, by Matthew Briggs.

Then came the deluge, and it was the impressive young left-back who engineered the 38th-minute breakthrough with his cross following a short-corner being turned in by Hughes. Five minutes later Steve Sidwell picked out the unmarked Dempsey to slide home. Four minutes after the break the American headed in from Pajtim Kasami's cross.

"The result did not reflect the match," insisted Ramos, "but it will be difficult to turn the tie around." Jol responded: "We could have scored four or five, but if we don't take our chances it is 1-0; 3-0 was realistic."

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, Briggs; Kasami (Johnson, 90), Murphy (Etuhu, 67), Sidwell, Duff (Dembele, 67), Dempsey, Zamora. Substitutes not used Etheridge (gk), JA Riise, Senderos, Gecov.

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk Lastuvka; Kulakov, Mandziuk, Cheberyachko, Denisov; Boateng (Zozulya, 55), Kravchenko, Rotan, Konoplyanka, Giuliano (Oliynyk, 68); Kalinic. Substitutes not used Kanibolotskiy (gk), Inkoom, Strinic, Shakov, Antonov.

Referee P Kralovec (Czech Republic).