Fulham claim Shakhtar scalp
A herculean performance from Fulham against Shakhtar Donetsk booked their passage to the last 16 of the Europa League.
Last Updated: 26/02/10 8:59am
A herculean performance from Fulham in the Ukraine ensured their qualification to the last 16 of the Europa League, as they held Shakhtar Donetsk to a 1-1 draw which saw them progress 3-2 on aggregate.
It was a backs to the wall effort for Roy Hodgson's side for much of what was the most engrossing of encounters, with Brede Hangeland's first half header setting the foundations for a result that will raise eyebrows across Europe.
Uefa Cup holders Shakhtar are as pleasing on the eye as perhaps any in the competition but Fulham, who played some excellent football themselves, refused to be daunted amid fevered and partisan Donetsk support.
Mark Schwarzer was inspired in Fulham's goal but could do little to repel Rodrigues Jadson's sharply taken leveller on the night that made for a frenetic and compelling final twenty minutes.
Some hairy moments ensued for the Cottagers but not even Danny Murphy's late red card, following an uncharacteristic rush of blood to the head, could spoil what was a magnificent night for the West London outfit.
Shakhtar, who had Luiz Adriano's away goal to show for their efforts in the first leg at Craven Cottage, were quickly into their stride with their five-strong Brazilian contingent looking sharp.
In the first minute Adriano fired in a low shot which was comfortably dealt with by Schwarzer.
The Fulham goalkeeper was called into more serious action when he tipped a long-range effort from Willian over the crossbar with just three minutes gone.
Adriano should have done better with an attempted curler moments later before, with the visitors retreating deeper and deeper, Schwarzer kept his side on level terms with a superb diving one-handed save to deny Fernandinho.
Fulham's overworked keeper then had to block another low Willian drive midway through the first half.
It was all hands to the pump in the Fulham area with striker Bobby Zamora hacking a dangerous low centre clear before Schwarzer scrambled Yaroslav Rakitsky's 30-yarder round a post.
But having stood up to the barrage, incredibly it was Fulham who took the lead with their first attack of the night.
After 33 minutes Zamora won a free-kick down the right, Damien Duff floated in the cross and Hangeland's glancing header beat the motionless Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.
It cancelled out Adriano's strike seven days earlier, to the delight of 350 hardy travelling fans, and meant Shakhtar needed to score twice to stay in the tie.
The hosts were straight back on the attack after the break and Adriano headed captain Darijo Srna's cross into the arms of Schwarzer.
But although Shakhtar continued to dominate Hangeland was imperious at the back, cutting out a driven centre from Razvan Rat with an immaculate first touch and getting his head onto just about everything else thrown at him.
With frustration growing in the home ranks, substitute Douglas blazed an ambitious 25-yarder high over Schwarzer's crossbar.
The Cottagers had a chance to kill off the tie when a rare counter-attack saw Zamora break clear down the right but his square cross, towards an unmarked Zoltan Gera, was cut out by defender Olexander Kucher.
And the moment Fulham feared came in the 69th minute when Douglas reached the byline and pulled the ball back for Jadson to sweep past Schwarzer to level the match on the night.
Fulham hearts were in their mouths with 10 minutes to go when a vicious curler from defender Rakitsky thundered into the side-netting.
Then Douglas' shot was deflected wide off Murphy with Shakhtar screaming for handball.
Gera passed up another chance to put Fulham clear when he scuffed wide in the final minute, before Murphy was shown a red card for kicking out at Srna moments before the final whistle.
|Shakhtar Donetsk||Team Statistics||Fulham|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|10||Shots on Target||1|
|10||Shots off Target||3|