Late lapse may prove costly as Madlung spoils Fulham’s night

FULHAM, the conquerors of Juventus in the previous round, gave themselves a healthy chance of adding Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg to their list of victims as their season clocked up game number 52.

Damien Duff’s well-taken goal after Bobby Zamora had opened the scoring looked like being enough to give Roy Hodgson’s a strong lead but a late Wolfsburg reply put the tie back in the balance.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson claimed his side made Wolfsburg looked “reasonably ordinary”.

“Wolfsburg are a good team, they are champions of Germany. They have many good players, but tonight I thought we made them look reasonably ordinary,” he said.

“We were certainly good value for our 2-0 lead, but of course a little bit of nervousness creeps in.

“A 2-0 lead is a little bit of a dangerous one, and we stopped playing a little the way we had been and let them into the game that little bit more.

“Unfortunately it led to a corner and their goal. But we have got to be happy that the European adventure continues at Craven Cottage and we have claimed another notable scalp.”

Duff described the concession as the late goal as “sloppy”, with Madlung unmarked six yards out to score, but believes the Cottagers can book a place in the semi-final in the second leg next Thursday.

“After the second goal we took our foot off the pedal and got a bit sloppy,” the Ireland international said.

“They nicked the away goal which can be crucial, but we always back ourselves to score a goal over there. It’s not a bad result and we can look forward to next Thursday.”

The odds may now favour Wolfsburg but that had also been the case last month when Juventus saw a 3-1 first leg advantage wiped out and bested on a night Fulham fans will never forget.

This wasn’t quite as exciting and Edin Dzecko, the scourge of the Bundesliga defences, who had overcome a knee problem to start, wasn’t even close to the target with the first shot of the night.

Eventually Fulham mustered a reply and Clint Dempsey forced Diego Benaglio into a diving save.

Grafite tested Schwarzer with a good effort as the game again began to swing ever so gently the Germans’ way.

Zamora had other ideas however, and broke the deadlock just before the hour mark. Gera’s long pass was taken in his stride and the Wolfsburg defence made the mistake of backing off. Zamora did not hesitate in accepting the invitation to shoot and, having cut inside to get the ball on his favoured left foot, beat Benaglio with a curling effort from the edge of the box.

Within four minutes Zamora had helped double the lead by setting Duff up for his ninth of the season.

Wolfsburg sought an instant response and should have been back in the tie straight away but again Dzeko could not live up to his reputation when it mattered, as a cross once again eluded Hangeland in front of goal.

Fulham were seconds from taking a two-goal advantage to Lower Saxony but Madlung’s powerful header with a minute of the game remaining changed the complexion of the tie, and made the Cottagers’ task that much more difficult.

* VALENCIA and Atletico Madrid produced a 2-2 draw while Hamburg edged Standard Liege 2-1 in Germany.

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Davies, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Duff, Murphy (Baird 87), Etuhu, Dempsey, Gera, Zamora.

WOLFSBURG: Benaglio, Pekarik (Martins 74), Madlung, Barzagli, Schafer, Riether, Josue, Gentner (Dejagah 84), Misimovic, Dzeko, Grafite.

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).

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