Martin Jol remains positive despite Fulham's Europa defeat

 

Martin Jol attempted to put a positive spin on things after Fulham's untimely exit from the Europa League last night.

The Cottagers crashed out of Europe after substitute Djiby Fall secured Odense a 2-2 draw deep into stoppage time.

Wisla Krakow finished second in Group K as a result and Jol is now hoping Fulham can improve their Premier League form.

"It is awful to go out of the competition in the way we did but hopefully we will gain something from the fact we don't have to play these Thursday matches," he said.

"I think it is a big blow for the club but every disadvantage has an advantage.

"There were positive things in the first half, like how much we put them under pressure and the players that made the difference, like [Kerim] Frei with a cross and a goal.

"In the second half our best players were probably almost worn out. They were tired.

"It is probably the 30th game for a few of them and that is not an excuse because we are a team that can defend a lead.

"We were 2-1 up and then 30 seconds from the end we did not have the cleverness or experience to keep it in their half."

The west Londoners' safe passage seemed all but secured at the interval after two goals in four first-half minutes through Clint Dempsey and Frei.

However, Fulham capitulated in the second period as Hans Henrik Andreasen's low free-kick and Fall's last-gasp header saw them drop out of the competition.

"We had so many players in there that wanted to do well," Jol said.

"Bairdy (Chris Baird), [Marcel] Gecov, Kerim Frei and even Mousa Dembele did everything in the first half.

"At the back, Aaron Hughes got his chance again so they were passionate to do well.

"It was more that we could not pressurise them in the second half and they scored pretty quickly to make it 2-1.

"And, of course, you are caught in two minds whether to hold back or look for the third one. That is always a problem in football."

Fulham's exit from the Europa League compounded a difficult day for Jol, who earlier saw goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer ruled out for up to six weeks after suffering a compression injury to his thoracic spine.

While Jol was left ruing a miserable day, Odense manager Henrik Clausen was delighted by his side's performance at Craven Cottage.

"I have to say Fulham looked very sharp in the first half and we had trouble with their deep balls and play down the middle," he said.

"But without doing that much different in the second half and scoring through the only two real chances we had, we managed to get a draw.

"I was very pleased with the performance from my players."

PA

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