Juventus 3 -1 Fulham
By Sefton Monk
With Fulham only winning two away matches this whole season, it was going to be very unlikely that they were going to win in Turin. It did not help with Riise and Elm having picked up a virus, so Fulham were left with only 6 subs with Clint Dempsey the surprise emergency inclusion.
Fulham started slow, as they have done all this season especially at home games. They were sloppy and gave the ball away too much. It didn’t help the cause that on-loan midfielder Jonathan greening’s lacklustre passing gave the ball to the opposition on too many occasions. The first off these occurrences later resulted in a Juventus corner, which ultimately lead to the home side scoring the first goal.
All this season Fulham and manager Roy Hodgson have had all the plaudits for their great organisation skills and solid defending; unfortunately I saw none of this, Hangeland was uncharacteristically all over the place and marking in general was poor. The goal in the first 10 minutes was not such a surprise considering the quality of the Italian side along Fulham’s recent tendency to let in early goals (Does stoke away ring any bells).
The persistent pressure by David Trezeguet made Fulham’s passing game very difficult, as Fulham tried to get the ball out of there half. The threat of five Juventus players, consistently pressuring Fulham’s defence led to them to conceding the next goal. A poor effort by Davies lead to Zebina’s clear route on goal for his great effort which flew right in the goal off Schwazer’s far post, even on his recent great form there was nothing the keeper could do.
The two early goals against Fulham gave them that all important wake up call the really needed. Fulham’s resilience and refusing to lie down led them to gain control of the game. They started to get their passing game together, which saw them build up to the eventual “phantom ”foul on a very frustrated Bobby Zamora. This free-kick led another bout of poor defending but this time by the Home side who failed to stop Etuhu’s shot dribbling into the bottom corner, Coincidently deflecting off the recent goals scorer Zabina. That goal gave Fulham that all important away goal and as they say losing 2-1 is better than losing 1-0 away from home in the first leg.
Fulham then had good spell of possession, which led to Baird laying a beautiful through ball to Zamora who broke through Juventus’s offside trap to lay good ball on to duff who crossed in to Davies who fluffed his shot and missed the ball totally. Every Fulham fan at this moment was thinking “why why why, any other Fulham player in that box than Simon Davies and that would have been a goal”.
Fulham continued to dominate with Juve defender Grosso being made fool of by good ball interchanges with Zamora, duff and Baird on the right, the defender relied on Cannavaro on too many occasions. This was Fulham’s outlet for all attacks and worked most of the time and veteran keeper Manninger saved Juventus on few occasions.
Manninger was again to thank for his world class save from a towering header from Hangeland, this was a head in hands moment for Fulham fans because this keeper was not going to give anything away.
The controversial moment of the game came in the first half when the referee was playing well in to over the already added time when against the run of play, David Trezuget scored from a corner at this point 3-1 its was all about damage limitation for the second half.
The teams came out for the second half and as usual it was like seeing a different Fulham team coming out for the second half, Juventus brought on Cameronesi who they thought would change the game and put it beyond Fulham. He was quite non influential as Juventus struggled to get near the Fulham goal in the second half, but as usual away from home and behind it was too little to late for Fulham , several chances and even a air shot 5 yards from goal wasn’t enough to get another crucial away goal.
On taking everything into account it wasn’t a poor performance it was just they were meet by a different kind of team they had not encountered before in the Europa league or Premier League, it was the same system that Chelsea failed to accommodate to against Juventus rivals Inter Milan. Fulham had majority of possession remember, but they did not make most of their chances.
Worrying for Fulham is that it is now evident that they fail to perform when skipper Danny Murphy is absent. He was missed especially when it was time for that crucial final pass, Greening and Etuhu just are not able to do what Murphy does. Just remember they are both defensively minded midfielders.
The good news is that Paul Konchesky played the full 90minutes on his comeback from a long layoff and hopes he came re-ignite his stake for a call up for the England team . Clint Dempsey and made his first appearance in a Fulham shirt for 2 months as well, he came on a substitute.
I pose a question… With Murphy and Greening suspended for the return leg and Dicogacoi injured, will he play Baird in midfield and run he risk of Kelly at right back?
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