In what must rank as the best overall team performance of the season Fulham have reached their first ever European Final thanks to a 2-1 aggregate victory over Hamburg in the Europa League. Fulham have only competed in Europe once before back in 2002-3 season when they won the Intertoto cup and this season had to come through the third qualifying round and a playoff round just to reach the group stage.
Their achievement is all the more remarkable given route to the final has sen them qualify from a tough group which included Roma and CSKA Sofia – both seasoned European campaigners. That in its self was a great achievement for a club of Fulham’s stature but they they knocked out the reigning holders Shakhtar Donetsk, beat 20 times Italian Champion Juventus coming back from 3-1 down to win 5-4 on aggregate and knocked out reigning German Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg in the Quarter Finals.
In the semi finals they managed a battling 0-0 draw in Hamburg, who would have been looking forward to playing the final in their own stadium had the won through, and last night after being outplayed for the 1st hour at Craven Cottage Fulham came back from a goal down to win 2-1. This European adventure must make Roy Hodson a candidate for manager of the year and could yet propel Bobby Zamora into England’s World Cup Squad.
Unfortunately It will not be an all English final in Hamburgs HSV Arena as Atletico Madrid scored an away goal in injury time to knock Liverpool out on away goals, in doing so heaping more pressure on Liverpool’s beleaguered manager Rafael Benítez.