Home Football The Night That Fulham Stunned Juventus With A Memorable Comeback

The Night That Fulham Stunned Juventus With A Memorable Comeback

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18: Clint Dempsey (L) of Fulham celebrates scoring with Paul Konchesky during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match between Fulham and Juventus at Craven Cottage on March 18, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

In what has has already started to feel like a Roy Hodgson love-in, the latest in our series of classic matches looks back at the time his Fulham side pulled off a staggering Europa League comeback in 2010.

Only two years previously, the Cottagers looked set for relegation to the Championship before completing a great escape, and now here they were rubbing shoulders with European giants.

The backstory

The first leg between these two sides in their Europa League last 16 tie had finished 3-1 to Juventus, with Nicola Legrottaglie, Jonathan Zaebina and David Trezeguet sealing a routine win for Alberto Zaccheroni’s side at the Olimpico. Dickson Etuhu had, however, pulled a goal back for the Premier League side so although their chances of progression were remote, that goal gae them a small bit of hope.

The match

Fulham got off to the worst possible start at Craven Cottage when Trezeguet had the Serie A giants 1-0 up with less than two minutes on the clock. The French striker capitalised on some sloppy home defending to slot home past Mark Schwarzer.

The English side now had a mountain to climb, but Bobby Zamora restored that small glimmer of hope seven minutes later when he controlled Paul Konchesky’s cross and fired past third-choice Juve keeper Antonio Chimenti. Their cause was given another boost midway through the half when Fabio Cannavaro’s red card reduced Juve to ten men.

Fulham began to make their numerical advantage pay dividends as they put pressure on the visitors’ box; Bobby Zamora came close from a free kick while Etuhu struck the post with a header. Hodgson’s men, however, did find a way to go in at the break 2-1 ahead when Zoltan Gera turned home Simon Davies’ low cross into the box.

2-1 to Fulham at half time, still 4-3 down in the tie but starting to grow in the belief that the comeback was very much on.

Hope fully transformed into confidence just four minutes into the second half, as Diego’s handball from a Damien Duff cross gave Fulham a golden chance to level the tie from the penalty spot. Gera duly converted, and supporters could scarcely believe what they were witnessing.

The Cottagers put more pressure on Juve from there on out, but the Italians at that point were looking to shit the game down and limit the damage. Hodgson introduced Clint Dempsey into proceedings with twenty minutes remaining, and the American was to have a huge bearing on the outcome of the match.

With less than ten minutes remaining, Dempsey picked the ball up on the edge of the Juventus area. The defence backed off, and the US international produced a stunning chip over Chimenti into the far corner of the net. From 4-1 down, Fulham now led the mighty Juventus 5-4 on aggregate – the stuff that dreams are made of.

Ferrara responded by bringing on Alessandro Del Piero with five minutes remaining, but it was too little, too late. Juventus were reduced to nine in stoppage time when Zebina was sent off for kicking out at Damien Duff.

There were scenes of jubilation when the final whistle rang out – Fulham had felled the Italian giant and marched on to the quarter-finals.

The aftermath

Fulham were paired with Bundesliga sides Wolfsburg and Hamburg in the quarter and semi-finals respectively, defeating both and denying the latter to play a Europa League final on home soil in the process. They faced Atletico Madrid in the final, only to suffer heartbreak by conceding a late goal in stoppage time to lose 2-1 to the Spanish giants.

Hodgson departed at the end of the season to take up the post at Liverpool, which is best never spoken of again.

Juventus, still recovering from their demotion several years earlier, finished seventh in Serie A that season, 27 points behind champions Inter. Zaccheroni ended his brief spell at the Bianconeri, with the club appointing Sampdoria boss Luigi Delneri as his successor.

Teams

Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Gera, Baird, Davies, Etuhu, Duff, Zamora

Subs: Dempsey (Kelly 71), Riise (Gera 85)

Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Smalling, Marsh-Brown, Dikgacoi, Nevland

Juventus: Chimenti, Cannavaro, Zebina, Grosso, Salihamadzic, Melo, Camoranesi, Sissoko, Candreva, Diego, Trezeguet

Subs: Grygera (Candreva 28), De Ceglie (Camoranesi 52), Del Piero (Grosso 85)

Not Used: Pinsoglio, Poulsen, Marrone, Iaquinta

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