Hodgson 'happy at Fulham' amid Anfield interest
Fulham 3 West Ham 2
Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager, admits he is flattered to be linked with the Liverpool job after watching his side continue their excellent season yesterday. The 62-year-old is reportedly on the shortlist to replace Rafael Benitez at Anfield after guiding Fulham to the Europa League final.
However, Hodgson says he is fully committed to fulfilling his contract with the Cottagers and knows nothing about Liverpool's interest. "I've said it before: I'm not a newspaper reader and know nothing about my name being linked with other jobs. I'm happy at Fulham," he said. "If I am linked with other jobs, it is very flattering but I have a contract at Fulham.
"The only thing I can stay is that once you achieve something, those moments cannot be taken away from you. You have to enjoy these moments and, yes, I am enjoying it."
Fulham's fantastic achievement of reaching the final meant that Hodgson could afford to rest several key players for this match. He made seven changes from the team that beat Hamburg, with only Mark Schwarzer, John Pantsil, Paul Konchesky and Simon Davies starting the successive fixtures.
West Ham should have taken the lead in the 24th minute when Mark Noble's shot on the turn drew a fine save from Schwarzer; Matthew Upson then headed wide from the resulting corner. Clint Dempsey, though, came even closer for Fulham three minutes later when his 25-yard shot clipped the crossbar. However, the American international was on target on the stroke of half-time to give Fulham the lead. Konchesky played in the striker, who fashioned a neat one-two with Davies before beating Robert Green.
Ten minutes after the restart Upson nearly turned the ball into his own net from Bjorn Helge Riise's cross as Fulham pressed to add to their tally. But Carlton Cole was not so fortunate, as he was struck by Chris Baird's effort which sent the ball past Green. The striker went someway to redeeming himself, however, when he pulled back a goal in the 62nd minute with a backwards header past Schwarzer.
Fulham restored their advantage when a mistake from Jonathan Spector let in Erik Nevland, who crossed for Stefano Okaka to fire home. West Ham substitute Guillermo Franco claimed a consolation in stoppage time.
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola, admitted his side have been well below par in their away fixtures this season: "The away form has not been good enough; we have to do better and I take responsibility for that. It is very disappointing. After last week we came here and did all we could to try to win the game. I don't think the players lacked anything, it just did not work out for us; it did not click and that's the end of the story."
The Italian added that he was not certain he would still be at the club next season: "The talk about my future does not affect me. It has been like that since I've been at the club. I don't want to talk about it, I just want to focus on the football, which has been very difficult this season."
Fulham (4-4-2) Schwarzer; Pantsil, Baird, Smalling, Konchesky; Riise, Dikgacoi, Greening, Davies (Okaka 70); Dempsey (Elm 85), Nevland. Substitutes not used Zuberbuhler, Kelly, Shorey, Gera, Etuhu.
West Ham (4-4-2) Green; Faubert (Diamanti 61), Da Costa, Upson, Spector; Behrami (Stanislas 82), Kovac, Parker, Noble; Cole, Ilan (Franco 61). Substitutes not used Kurucz, Gabbidon, Daprela, Boa Morte.
Referee A Marriner (Birmingham).
Man of the match Dempsey.
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