Fulham lost out to Fiorentina in the Cup of Traditions final after an epic penalty shoot-out in Duisburg following an entertaining goalless draw.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s side enjoyed by far the better of the 45-minute contest but couldn’t convert their superiority into goals and teenage full-back Steven Sessegnon saw his spot-kick saved by French goalkeeper Alban Lafont as Fiorentina triumphed 9-8 on penalties. There was much to admire about Fulham’s cohesion and confidence in possession before the disappointment of the shoot-out, however, with new signing Andre Schürrle enjoying a promising debut following his loan move from Borussia Dortmund. The Germany winger almost created the opening goal for Luca de la Torre inside two minutes with a barnstorming run but Fiorentina managed to clear the danger.
Fulham’s most impressive performer was right back Cyrus Christie, who flew down the wing in a manner reminiscent of the departed Ryan Fredericks. The Irish international whipped in a number of dangerous crosses, one of which was almost converted by Schürrle, but the German’s first-time effort was deflected over the crossbar. Christie’s direct running caused no end of problems for the Fiorentina defence and it was unfortunate that there weren’t white shirts in the six-yard box often enough to profit from his outstanding display.
Kebano had two good chances in the space of a minute to put Fulham in front on the half hour mark. Deployed once again as a false nine, the Congolese forward showed considerable strength to hold off two challenges and drive in a threatening shot that Lafont did very well to push aside. Seconds later, de la Torre released Kebano again only for the Fiorentina goalkeeper to save impressively once more, this time with his feet.
Fiorentina threatened sporadically but they had glorious chances of their own to break the deadlock. Giovanni Simeone, reportedly the subject of a rejected £40m bid from Atletico Madrid earlier today, should have done better than to send a free header over the bar from a free-kick and his teenage replacement, Dusan Vlahovic, spurned an even better opportunity when he blazed wildly over as he ran through on Fabri’s goal.
It eventually came down to penalty kicks and Fulham’s first eight were flawless. The unfortunate Sessegnon, introduced as a substitute for Christie, saw his effort superbly saved by Lafont before Federico Ceccherini found the top corner to ensure the Italians left with the trophy.
FIORENTINA (4-2-3-1): Lafont; Diks, Pezzella, Ceccherini, Biraghi; Benassi (Dabo 11), Veretout; Gerson, Eysseric (Montiel 23), Sottil; Simeone (Vlahovic 11). Subs (not used): Dragowksi, Milenkovic, Vitor, Thereau.
FULHAM (4-3-3): Fabri; Christie (S. Sessegnon 32), R. Sessegnon, Odoi, Ream; McDonald, Seri, Johansen; de la Torre, Schürrle, Kebano. Subs (not used): L. Ashby-Hammond, Le Marchand, Cairney, Kamara, Fonte.