World Cup Heartbreak for Fulham Duo

by Lydia on November 14, 2017

It doesn’t look as though Fulham will have much of an impact at next year’s World Cup in Russia after both Northern Ireland and DR Congo crashed out at the final hurdle leaving both Ollie Norwood and Neeskens Kebano heart broken.

For Northern Ireland, it was a two-legged play-off between them and Switzerland to decide a place at the World Cup. After 180minutes of football, it was only Ricardo Rodriguez’s controversial penalty in Belfast that sealed the tie. Norwood started both the 1-0 defeat in Belfast and the 0-0 draw in Basel, but came off after 75minutes for Charlton man Josh Magennis in the second leg. Northern Ireland will feel frustrated in the manner of defeat thanks to a penalty that should never have been awarded, but no one can doubt that Switzerland had the better of the chances throughout both legs. Norwood struggled to keep Arsenal man Granit Xhaka quiet in the first leg, but put in a much more dominant performance in Basel where Northern Ireland piled the pressure on to their hosts. Ultimately it wasn’t to be for the Fulham midfielder and Northern Ireland as they missed out on a chance to reach back to back major tournaments for the first time in their history.

It was a slightly different story for Neeskens Kebano and DR Congo as they won their last group game, but missed out on a World Cup spot thanks to results not going their way elsewhere. DR Congo put in an impressive performance to beat Guinea 3-1, with our man getting himself on the scoresheet deep into injury time with a right footed shot alongside an own goal from Ousmane Sidibe and a Jonathan Bolingi penalty. But Tunisia’s goalless draw with Libya was enough for them to finish top of the group and to shatter the hopes and dreams of DR Congo. Kebano played the full match.

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Tom Cairney played 40 minutes as a Fulham side were well beaten by Premier League Southampton in a friendly at Saints’ Staplewood training ground earlier today.

The Fulham skipper, who missed the Whites’ latest league defeat at leaders Wolves on Friday night, came through this hastily-arranged behind closed doors fixture with no complaints but Fulham’s adventurous style saw them picked off easily by their hosts. The tone was set just thirty seconds in when Oriel Romeu punished some ponderous Fulham passing on the edge of their own box and curled a gorgeous effort around a helpless Marcus Bettinelli into the top corner.

Fulham had a decent spell of pressure after going behind with Cairney seeing a shot blocked and Aboubakar Kamara’s header from a corner pushed away by Stuart Taylor. Slavisa Jokanovic’s side failed to take their chances and were swiftly punished by a rapid Southampton break. Romeu located James Ward-Prowse with a searching crossfield ball and former QPR forward Charlie Austin sauntered around Bettinelli to double Saints lead when he was supplied by the England under-21 international.

Austin had his second five minutes later when Yohan Mollo inexplicably handled the ball at a corner – with the striker sending Bettinelli the wrong way from twelve yards. Steven Sessegnon, who attacked with intent down the right flank throughout, sparked Fulham’s first attack for a while with a powerful run but Rafa Soares’ drive was turned aside by Taylor.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg punished some lethargic defending six minutes before the break to make it four and Austin completed a clinical hat-trick just before the hour mark when he nodded home a floated cross from the left. Fulham kept going to the end with Ryan Fredericks, Michael Madl and Tyrese Francois all going close before Bettinelli made a sprawling double save to deny Austin and Ward-Prowse in quick succession.

The visitors did get something of a consolation when Ibrahima Cisse burst away from his marker to power home Matt O’Riley’s corner – but it proved another chastening afternoon for Fulham.

SOUTHAMPTON: Taylor; Pied, Stephens, Gardos (Bakary 69), Targett; Romeu (Obafemi 69), McQueen; Ward-Prowse, Højbjerg, Redmond; Austin.

GOAL: Romeu (1), Austin (21, pen 26, 59), Hojbjerg (39)

FULHAM (4-3-3): Bettinelli; S. Sessegnon, Madl (Graham 65), Djalo, Soares (Odoi 40); Cisse, Cairney (Francois 40), McDonald (O’Riley 40); Mollo (Fredericks 40), Kamara (Fonte 40), Graham (de la Torre 40).

GOAL: Cisse (84).

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