Murphy finds the space to fire Fulham

Fulham 1 Basle 0

Insipid, lacking in rhythm and instantly forgettable, the new Europa League anthem is altogether a shocker. A few more matches like this, however, and the revamped competition itself may yet catch the imagination. This was a game of pace, commitment and no little skill, and if it lacked the frenetic pressure of a Premier League fixture, it was none the worse for that.

With the Cottagers having lost their previous three matches and hovering a place above the relegation zone, the temptation to rest players in preparation for Sunday's visit to West Ham must have been mighty for Fulham manager Roy Hodgson. Having indignantly insisted he did not see the competition as a potential distraction, however, Hodgson had little choice other than to field a strong side. Even so, a clutch of minor injuries meant there were still five changes to the team unfortunate to lose to Arsenal last Saturday, including three of the back four.

Having coached successfully at both club and national level in Switzerland, Hodgson was not have been surprised to see the visitors were accomplished and well-organised from the start, and had Alexander Frei not pulled his shot wide after Behrang Safari beat Stephen Kelly on the Fulham right, they might have taken a deserved early lead. The near miss galvanised Fulham, and Andrew Johnson drove a low shot a foot wide with Basle goalkeeper Franco Costanzo well beaten. At the other end Benjamin Huggel volleyed just over, but the midfielder's technique deserted him when Marco Streller's cushioned header left him with only Mark Schwarzer to beat. From six yards, he scooped the ball wastefully over the bar.

Playing towards their supporters in the second half, Basel continued to press forward, but Fulham's midfield was beginning to come to terms with their opponents, and Murphy, always quick to adjust, became increasingly influential. It was fitting he should break the deadlock, though Johnson, running tirelessly, deserved almost as much credit for the pull-back which his captain side-footed home.

Basle began to work their way back into the game. Frei, having turned cleverly on the edge of the area to create a yard of space, held his head after hitting the resulting shot straight at the Australian goalkeeper. At least he got it on target though. With eight minutes remaining Streller, having created a number of opportunities for his team-mates, finally had a chance of his own. It was a gilt-edged one too, but from eight yards, he too blasted high. Even then Valentin Stocker, deep into injury time, should have equalised, but Schwarzer dived full length to push the shot away.

"It was an exciting game with no quarter given, and I'm pleased we came out on top," said Hodgson. "I knew we would be playing a good team, and this will improve our confidence going in to Sunday."

Basle manager Thorsten Fink felt his team had lost concentration at the start of the second half. "We created a lot of chances. and controlled most of the game, so I'm disappointed," he said.

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Kelly, Smalling, Baird, Konchesky; Riise, Greening, Murphy, Dempsey; Zamora, Johnson. Substitutes not used: Pantsil, Nevland, Gera, Kamara, Hughes, Saunders, Anderson.

Basle (4-4-2): Costanzo; Sahin, Abraham (Da Silva, 68), Atan, Safari; Carlitos (Almerares, 82), Huggel, Gelabert (Chipperfield, 85), Stocker; Frei, Streller. Substitutes not used: Colomba (gk), Chipperfield, Shaqiri, Cabral, Ferati. Referee: M Weiner (Germany).

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all