It may have only been a friendly, but Roy Hodgson’s scowl at the end told you all you needed to do. The wily old fox who conjured up arguably the biggest miracle of his extraordinary managerial career last season was far from happy. His revamped Fulham side looked to have put together the perfect warm-up for next weekend’s big kick off at Hull City by establishing a two-goal lead through first half goals from Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera, but surrendered in with some dreadful defending in the final ten minutes. Elvis Abbruscato and Angelo Ogbonna brought the Serie A level – and left Hodgson fuming.
There had been much to like about Fulham’s play for most of this contest. Andy Johnson had a watching brief after being introduced to the Craven Cottage crowd before kick off, but chances were far and far between in a cagey opening period. Nicolas Amoruso fashioned the best opening with an instinctive turn and shot that flashed just wide of Mark Schwarzer’s far post.
Bobby Zamora, showing signs of real form during pre-season, offered more evidence of his finishing ability by clinically converted his first chance on 20 minutes. Seol Ki-Hyeon made the goal with a cutback from the right flank and his strike partner Zamora found the far corner after a turn and shot that matched Amoruso’s earlier effort for athleticism and execution.
Schwarzer was called into action to make a stunning reaction save to deny Aimo Diana after the Torino full-back had rifled towards the top corner at the end of a rampaging run and one-two that had unlocked the Fulham defence. Hangeland then needed to slide across the six-yard box to prevent Simone Barone from equalising and the hosts punished the Italians in the harshest manner possible from their next attack.
Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Gera doubled the lead with a lovely left-footed drive after he ghosted onto a lovely cross from Paul Konchesky. Seol had done brilliantly to link up with the left back having rescued a lost cause down the right and the Korean’s industry was appropriately rewarded by Gera’s unerring finish. Fulham’s two-goal half time advantage probably flattered the home side and Torino were sent out early for the second period by an unhappy Gianni De Biasi.
The Italians almost created an equaliser in the very first minute after the restart but Jurgen Samnuel’s snapshot was bravely blocked by summer signing Fredrik Stoor, who had just replaced John Pantsil at right back. Fulham went straight up the other end and won a free-kick when Zamora was crudely taken out from behind. Bullard’s low effort almost deceived Matteo Sereni, but the goalkeeper improvised to block with his right foot.
Alessandro Rosina tried to reply in kind with a Torino free-kick from 25 yards but he blazed high into the Putney End. There was a much more frenetic tempo to the second half, with Bullard drawing a couple of smart saves from Sereni, who also gathered a Zamora curler from 25 yards. Amoroso then headed against the far post from Dominique Malonga’s cross with Schwarzer beaten, whilst at the other end Steven Davis somehow saw two shots scrambled off the line straight after each other.
Torino kept throwing bodies forward and built a route back in the contest with ten minutes to play when substitute Abbruscato lashed a left-footed volley past a helpless Schwarzer after latching onto a through ball that had caught the Fulham rearguard horribly square. The hosts’ attempt at keep ball outside the Torino area then went horribly wrong when Zamora and Stoor misread each other’s intentions. Il Toro broke rapidly up field and Angelo Ogbonna’s deflected drive gave them a share of the spoils.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil (Stoor 45), Konchesky, Hughes, Hangeland; Bullard, Murphy, Davies (Davis 75), Gera; Seol (Dempsey 75), Zamora. Subs (not used): Stockdale, Kallio, Andreasen, Nevland.
GOALS: Zamora (20), Gera (28).
TORINO (4-5-1): Sereni; Diana, Pisano, Di Loreto, Pratali; Grella, Samuel, Barone, Malonga, Rosina; Amoruso. Subs: Calderoni, Colombo, Rubin, Ogbonna, Stellone, Coroni, Abbruscato.
GOALS: Abbruscato (80), Ogbonna (88).