Fulham will face one of the longest trips in European football next Thursday for the second leg of their Europa Cup qualifying play-off without the security that a three-goal lead should have guaranteed and without their principal striker, Andy Johnson. Comfortably ahead against Amkar Perm – the easternmost club in Europe – they conceded a late goal to the substitute Valeriy Grishkin. Worse, Johnson will be missing for two months with a dislocated shoulder after the crudest of fouls by Dmitry Belorukov, which left Fulham's manager, Roy Hodgson, fuming.
"It was a good win marred by such a bad challenge," he said. "It was unbelievably blatant and I'm disappointed when referees are supposed to be clamping down. I don't think there's any doubt he should have been sent off."
Hodgson had already been considering the purchase of a new forward, which now becomes more urgent. Johnson and Bobby Zamora were hardly prolific scorers last season – nine league goals between them – although they have begun the current campaign linking up particularly well and each scored last night.
In the fourth minute Zamora went down the left and produced a perfect low cross for his striking partner, who was able to dink the ball neatly over the goalkeeper, Sergei Narubin. Johnson's pace took him beyond the visitors' defence several times; two minutes from the interval Narubin denied him again.
Fulham began the second half, like the first, hungrily and were again rewarded with a goal. Dempsey, playing for his place following Damien Duff's arrival, hit a thunderous 25-yard shot into the net.
Apparently sated, the home side dozed. Mark Schwarzer used his fingertips to touch a strong drive from Ivan Cherenchikov for a corner, which Mitar Novakovic headed over the bar.
Having illustrated their technical ability in patches, Amkar showed a less pleasing physical edge and Johnson had to be taken to hospital after the most blatant of body-checks by Belorukov. Duff then came on and immediately set up a third goal, supplying Erik Nevland for a lay-off to Zamora, who scored with a thump.
But Fulham nodded off again and Grishin struck a useful away goal.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Gera (Duff, 78), Murphy, Etuhu (Baird, 81), Dempsey; Johnson (Nevland, 70), Zamora. Substitutes not used: Stockdale (gk), Kelly, Riise, Johnson.
Amkar Perm (4-2-3-1): Narubin; Sirakov, Cherenchikov, Belorukov, Gaal; Peev, Drincic; Jean Carlos (Junozovic, 87), Novakovic (Telkivski, 70), Zhilayev (Grishin, 62); Kushev. Substitutes not used: Usminskiy (gk), Pomerko, William, Kalashnikov.
Referee: P Garcia (Portugal).
* Aston Villa were beaten 1-0 by the Austrian side Rapid Vienna in the first leg of their Europa League qualifying tie after Nikica Jelavic scored inside the first minute in the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium.Reuse content