Hangeland heads Fulham into last 16

by Dan on February 25, 2010

Brede Hangeland heads the vital away goal against Shakhtar

It wasn’t pretty. It was gritty, often nervy and – at times – even a little desperate but it was enough. Fulham claimed the sizeable scalp of the UEFA Cup holders, Shakhtar Donetsk, in Ukraine tonight with a performance full of the tenacity and organisation that has characterised their rapid rise under Roy Hodgson. The wily old coach, who unbelievably was thought to have something to prove in his homeland when he returned to the Premier League with Fulham staring relegation in the face in 2007, predicted that Shakhtar will unleash an early onslaught and he was right. But the Londoners stood firm, scored with their first attack and, barring a frantic finale which saw captain Danny Murphy sent off for an impetus kick at an opponent in injury, largely withstood the home pressure.

The stoutness of Fulham’s defence undoubtedly contributed to their progress once again. Shakhtar saw plenty of the ball at Craven Cottage a week ago but couldn’t translate that into goals and seemed intent on wreaking revenge in the Donbass Arena. Merely reaching the twenty minute mark with their narrow advantage still intact was something of an achievement for Hodgson’s side. The Ukrainians forced a succession of early corners and carved the Fulham defence open with their slick, snappy passing. The clearest chance came the way of Jadson, but one of Shakhtar’s five starting Brazilians, inexplicably miscued when he was afforded far too much room eight yards from goal.

Shakhtar seem to have borrowed more than just personnel from South America. They’ve taken the Brazilian philosophy with them as well. Players changed positions with dizzying regularity and the full backs pushed on to supplement three advanced midfielders. Mark Schwarzer, having saved from Luiz Adriano as early as the first minute, smothered a couple more efforts from the striker who had fired a crucial away goal at the Cottage and fielded similar strikes from Fernandinho and Ilsinho. The ease with which Willian, who forced Schwarzer to tip a fierce drive over his crossbar, was getting round Chris Baird would have worried the travelling fans but both he and Thomas Hubschmann, more famed for stopping goals than scoring them, fired wide from threatening positions.

It had the hallmarks of a backs-to-the-wall effort about it but you feared Fulham’s gallant defensive rearguard would almost inevitably end in failure. Then, unbelievably, with their first attack, the visitors went in front. Murphy wandered over to a free kick with Damien Duff, offered a couple of words of advice and walked away. Duff whipped it into a dangerous area from where Hangeland glanced a header into the far corner. It seemed ludicrously easy. One attack, one effort on goal, one-nil.

The goal gave Fulham confidence and there was a bit more energy about their attacks from that point until half-time. Bobby Zamora attempted to beat the goalkeeper from what might a few weeks ago have been considered absurd range but now seemed fair game. Fulham remained resolute at the back with Hughes and Hangeland throwing themselves into crucial challengers and, as an indication of their wholesome commitment, the more offensively-minded Simon Davies and Duff were getting through a great deal of diligent defensive work.

Mircea Lucescu, the Romanian coach who has steered Shakhtar to three league championships and UEFA Cup success since taking over in 2004, resisted the temptation to go for broke, opting instead merely to change their anchor in central midfield. The home side attacked with renewed vigour in the second period and there were a few hairy moments. Douglas Costa, much more influential here than a week ago, seemed to do things at significantly greater speed than any of his team-mates. His acceleration into the box surprised Baird even if Luiz Adriano was unable to profit, but when he got behind Stephen Kelly, there was end product to match the adventure. Jadson, who had barely flickered on the radar for much of the contest, appeared just outside the six-yard box to reach the cut back and fire clinically past Schwarzer. Game on.

Belief surged through Shakhtar and the full-to-capacity stadium. Adriano should have done better than head tamely at Schwarzer and the goal only served to delay an attacking change from Lucescu. It was heart in mouth time whenever Douglas Costa carried the ball towards the box or the increasing Illsinho had half a yard of space in front of the Fulham box. With such slick passing designed to plot a route through the tightest of gaps, it was a relief to see Shakhtar desperately thrashing shots from distance.

Fulham kept their shape even if Bobby Zamora was replaced with David Elm, a more conventional target man but a more limited forward than our in-form focal point, and a defensive mistake gave Gera the chance to seal the contest as the clock ticked down. The Hungarian capitalised on a charged down clearance to sprint almost from the halfway line through on goal unattended but struck his shot wide of the near post. He lay disconsolate on the ground, holding his head in the knowledge that he’d spurned the chance to end Fulham’s anxiety.

Then came Murphy’s moment of madness, flicking a boot at an opponent as Fulham tried to wind down the clock. It was petty, but could prove pretty costly once the UEFA disciplinary committee review the red card. Not that it dampened Fulham’s giddy celebrations at the final whistle as they completed a mouthwatering meeting with either Ajax or Juventus in the last sixteen.

SHAKHTAR DONETSK (4-3-2-1): Pyatov; Srna, Rat, Kucher, Rakytskiy; Fernandinho, Hübschman (Kravchenko 45); Ilsinho, Jadson, Willian (Costa 53); Adriano (Gladkiy 76). Subs (not used): Tetenko, Lewandowski, Gai, Ishchenko.

BOOKED: Ilsinho.

GOAL: Jadson (69).

FULHAM (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Baird, Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland; Etuhu, Murphy, Duff, Davies (Riise 89); Gera; Zamora (Elm 72). Subs (not used): Zuberbuhler, Marsh-Brown, Smalling, Greening, Nevland.


SENT OFF: Murphy.

GOAL: Hangeland (33).

REFEREE: Svein Odvar Moen (Norway).


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  • That was payback for the mindless tackle on Duff. Murphy was protecting his guy. I have no problem with this…certainly not “madness”.


  • He’ll get 1 game. It was well worth it.

    It may be my American mentality, but thats how its handled here. Pitcher plunks your guy in the head, then one of your guys gets one right back. Bravo Murphy!

    Perhaps this is why we won the Revolutionary War back in the day…

  • Dan

    Perhaps it is. I’m just worried UEFA could extend the ban and he misses both games in the next round. Whatever happens it shouldn’t sour an incredible victory or the celebrations.

  • WOW!!!!!
    Just what I’d hoped for a 1-1 draw giving us the aggregate and the away goal!!!!!

  • CW_FulhamUSA

    I am sorry, I agree with the Murphy tackle. The sadness of it is that he didn’t land a fist upside the guy’s head. What wasn’t mentioned in the recap, and what had Roy running about on the touchline wasn’t the tackle on Duff…IT WAS THE THREE TIMES THE OTHER GUY TRIED TO KICK HIM WHILE HE WAS LAYING DOWN. Watch the replay, it was ridiculous, and I have never seen Roy run so fast, not even when he comes out before the match and after halftime. It was, use an American phrase, Busch league at best and Murphy was well within his right, and he barely touched the guy.

    Either way, magnificent showing from the boys. Is it me or did that pitch seem at least twice as large as Craven Cottage’s?

  • Mike H

    Don’t understand how you can condone Danny’s red card. Sure he was fired up after the terrible tackle on Duff. But how does getting sent off “protect… his guy”? Especially with only a minute left in the match. All it does is deprive us of our captain in the next match. Danny’s been great, but needs to keep a lid on it in the interests of the whole team.

  • CW_FulhamUSA

    Oh yea, and it shouldn’t have been a red card anyhow…should have been yellow at most.

  • Mike H

    If it definitely should have been a yellow then I’m sure Roy will appeal. If not, then he won’t risk having the ban doubled.

  • “He’ll get 1 game. It was well worth it.

    It may be my American mentality, but thats how its handled here. Pitcher plunks your guy in the head, then one of your guys gets one right back. Bravo Murphy!”

    That’s just stupid.

  • Mitchell Stream

    Yes I was actually disappointed in Murphy. It showed petulance, and lacked sportsmanship, two things which traditionally Fulham do not show. Not to mention that he is our captain as well. I am not condoning the tackle on Duff, but Murphy should have shown some maturity and experience, as would be expected of such a player.

  • Moving away from Murphy’s red card for a second, what a brilliant performance from Fulham tonight. It’s no easy feat going to Shakhtar and coming away with a result. Roy set us brilliantly and the boys deserve great credit for their work ethic. A special mention to Stephen Kelly, who I’ve been critical of before, but he certainly didn’t let us down.

  • Mike H

    Agreed Chloe. Brilliant defensive performance all round. I got stick from one or two on TIFF for praising Kelly’s performance in the first leg – some people have got to have a whipping boy. He’s been solid in both legs. Roy has the ability to pick up ‘journeymen’ players and get the best out of them. This must be the best drilled side in Fulham’s history.

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