A youthful Fulham side were well beaten by Fenerbahce as the Whites’ pre-season tour of France got off to a poor start this afternoon.
Slavisa Jokanovic selected a young side full of talent from the club’s much-vaunted academy as the Whites’ first-teamers continued to work on their fitness ahead of the big kick off next month. Marek Rodak was handed another start in goal, with Marlon Fossey and Steven Sessegnon operating at full back, whilst Ibrahima Cisse – who was on the periphery of the senior squad last term – provided the experience alongside talented teenager Matt O’Riley and American international Luca de la Torre in central midfield. Estonian international Mattias Kait was used as a false nine for the second game in succession, with Congolese winger Neeskens Kebano skippering an inexperienced eleven.
The young Fulham side were in the game for the first half an hour, making a promising start when Cisse, Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson and Kait combined impressively but Kebano was shut down by a number of Fenerbache defenders as soon as he looked to pull the trigger. Steven Sessegnon then showed attacking prowess reminiscent of his twin brother darting in between a host of would-be tacklers and firing in a dangerous shot that was deflected wide. Fenerbahce began to get into the game after a quarter of an hour with Brazilian attacking midfielder Giuliano shooting wide from an acute angle and Aatif Chahechouhe placing a shot agonisingly wide of the far post.
The warning sides were there for Fulham and it was no surprise when their Turkish opponents took the lead on 28 minutes. Former QPR full-back Mauricio Isla got forward down the right wing and rifled over a low cross that a predatory Giuliano guided past a helpless Rodak and into the net. Fulham spurned a couple of good chances to find an equaliser with Kebano slamming a free-kick into the wall and de la Torre using a hand to control the ball in a promising position, but Jokanovic’s charges went 2-0 just before the break.
A spell of patient possession culminated with left-back Hasan Ali surging into the box before keeping his composure impressively to fire an unstoppable effort past Rodak low into the net. The Turkish side were technically impressive and proved clinical in the Fulham box, offering a tough lesson to some of the Whites’ youngsters on the harsh realities of senior football.
Rodak, so impressive on loan at Rotherham last season, produced an excellent save to prevent Fenerbahce from adding a third seven minutes after the restart. A through ball sent winger Alper Potak in on goal, but Fulham’s Slovakian goalkeeper did very well to stand up for as long as possible and pull of a fine reaction stop. The Whites nearly found a way back in the contest through O’Riley, comfortably their most impressive performer, but his low 20-yarder was easily fielded by Carlos Kameni in the Fenerbache goal.
Jokanovic rung the changes after 65 minutes introducing Marcus Bettinelli, Cyrus Christie, Denis Odoi, Tom Cairney, Aboubakar Kamara and Ryan Sessegnon amongst others. Sessegnon had a good opportunity with his very first touch after de la Torre committed several defenders during a purposeful run, but the recently-introduced winger saw his shot blocked by the Fenerbahce defence. Bettinelli’s first taste of pre-season action soured when he let a cross from Ozan Tufan drift over him and into the net for Fener’s third goal.
Fulham dominated possession for much of the second period but struggled to create many clear-cut chances. Christie got to the byline with timing running out but neither Rui Fonte or Tyrese Francois were able to convert the Irish international’s wicked cross and, in the final action of the game, Sessegnon was flagged offside as he looked destined to turn home Kamara’s speculative strike for a consolation goal. Jokanovic will hope his side improve ahead of Saturday’s game against Lyon at the Stade Pierre Rajon.
FENERBACHE (4-1-2-3): Volkan (Kameni 45); Isla (Ozbayrakli 45), Hasan Ali (Köybasi 45) , Skrtel, Neustadter; Mehmet Topuz (Tufan 65); Elif Elmas, Josef; Alper, Aatif (Alici 65), Giuliano. Subs (not used): Mert Zeybk, Kose, Ozer, Ucan, Samed Karakoc, Kadioglu, Kot.
BOOKED: Hasan Ali, Aatif.
GOALS: Giuliano (28), Hasan Ali (42), Tufan (75).
FULHAM (4-3-3): Rodak (Bettinelli 65); Fossey, S. Sessegnon (Christie 65), Djalo (Odoi 65), Jenz (Le Marchand 76); Cisse (Cairney 65), O’Riley (Francois 76), de la Torre (Johansen 76); Kebano (Kamara 65), Thorsteinsson (Sessegnon 65), Kait (Fonte 65).