Roy Hodgson was pleaed with Fulham’s resolve after they ground out a nervy win over CSKA Sofia last night to set up a thrilling finale to their Europa League group campaign in Basel in a couple of weeks time.
Hodgson’s side should have led by more than just Zoltan Gera’s header at half time after dominating the first half but were hanging on for dear life by the end as the Bulgarians laid siege to the Fulham goal.
All credit to CSKA, they had nothing to lose in the last 20 minutes and brought talented players on. When you make changes it makes it difficult for players.
It was foolish to miss a penalty but there were other missed chances and the game could have been dead and buried. I’m very pleased that we showed the strength of character to stand up to that.
Hodgson insisted that, while Fulham would be doing their very best to win in Basel, the league remained his priority.
The Premier League is the major concern and the Europa League comes second to that. I don’t think the fans will hold anything against us for our performances in this competition. They know when we go to Basel we will be doing our very best.
We are still trying to do the best we can, the players will be trying hard to get us through and that was evident against CSKA, personified by people like Simon Davies, Zoltan Gera and Bobby Zamora. We knew it would be tough for Basel to get anything at Roma so with the four points dropped against Roma we always thought we would have had to win the last two games.
Hodgson refused to say that it was a mistake to allow Murphy, making his return after a long injury lay-off, to take the ninth minute penalty.
He’s our penalty taker. It was the first missed since I’ve been at the club. It wasn’t a mistake to let him take it.
Technically, Murphy did miss at Manchester City – but then he rolled in the rebound.