Thursday, February 18, 2010

Big win for Fulham against Shakhtar Donetsk

Going into this match I thought a win tonight by Fulham would be huge for their confidence. Their is no question that the priority for this season is the league and the F A Cup. Anything more they can do in the Europa League is a bonus. With this win now Fulham are playing with "house money". It will be a very tough task to win in the Ukraine next week. However, I wouldn't bet against Fulham finding away to move ahead in the Europa League.

Shakhtar Donetsk are a very gifted team. I left watching the match very impressed by this Ukranian club. I think that is what makes this victory even more significant. The most talented and skilled team doesn't always win. Sometimes it is a lucky bounce or a shot of the ball. Tonight though I will call this a victory by a team that is disciplined and found a way to win.

Fulham actually came flying out of the gate. In the first few minutes Fulham dominated. Danny Murphy sent a free kick in the first minute right to Brede Hangeland. He headed the ball, and almost got it past the goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov. The goalkeeper made a nice save.

In the 3rd minute Danny Murphy found Bobby Zamora who passed the ball to Zoltan Gera. He then scored the first goal of the game. This action was very early into the match. Shakhtar Donetsk at this point had not gotten there feet wet yet.

After about the first 10 minutes Shakhtar Donetsk started to settle in. They were starting to control the ball and the game was starting to be played in Fulham's half. In the 13th minute, Shakhtar Donetsk's first threat of the match came. Brede Hangeland had a ball taken away from him by Fernandinho. He tried a pass that was blocked by Aaron Hughes. Fulham dodged a bullet there, but you could tell the tone of the match was changing. A little later in the 31st minute Darijo Srna took a strong right footed shot that just went wide of the net.

The momentum and play at this point was with the Ukranian team. You could see that equalizing goal coming. In the 32nd minute Luiz Adriano was sent a ball through from Darijo Srna. He got by Stephen Kelly and put the ball past Schwarzer. The game was now tied 1 - 1.

There was another good chance by Fulham later in the half. Simon Davies tried to head in a great ball from Damien Duff. Unfortunately for Davies his header was slightly wide of the net.
The half ended 1 - 1 , but Shakhtar Donetsk controlled the majority of the half.

There was a completely different tone to the second half. Fulham started to control more of the ball in the opening several minutes. This led to the 63rd minute of the match. Brede Hangeland sent a pass to Zoltan Gera. He made a great touch pass to Bobby Zamora. He then scored on a booming right footed shot that got by the goalkeeper. The shot went right to the top corner and the keeper didn't have a chance. Fulham were now up 2 - 1.

Bobby Zamora wasn't done being dominant tonight. In the 70th minute off of a free kick from Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora's header went just wide. This was a major chance for Fulham to go up 2 goals.

After that moment Shakhtar Donetsk started to increase the pressure again. They were in the Fulham half for a good portion of the last 20 minutes of the match. Fulham's defense was strong to hold off the pressure. The best and last chance for the Ukranian team came in stoppage time. Mark Schwarzer made a beautiful save off of a shot from Fernandinho. This saved secured the victory for Fulham. The game ended 2 - 1 in favor of Fulham.

Whatever happens next week in the Ukraine, Fulham players and the fans should be proud of the victory tonight. It is the type of game you can build on. Just remember only 2 years ago Fulham were in a relegation battle. Tonight they beat a team that won the UEFA Cup last season. I would call that some serious progress.

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