Sunday, 18 September 2011

European nights - FUL 1 -1 TWN

So I finally managed to catch up with a Fulham game, albeit on lovely Channel 5, and was partially impressed at what I saw. Young Matthew Briggs had a stormer from left back, Grygera was solid enough at left beck (although on another day with a different European ref he could have been  in serious trouble after an 'enthusiastic' tackle in the first half), Kasami was full of energy on the right (if little guile), Dembele was more effective than usual, as was AJ.
It was AJ that provided Fulham with the lead after two bits of bad defending - the first saw him cut out a square pass, while the miscontrol of the challenging defender allowed him to clip a wonderful finish past Twente's goalkeeper. Fulham were actually quite comfortable for a lot of the first half without having too many attempts on target, but have a worrying capacity to crumble under a bit of pressure this season. So it proved after Twente's headed equaliser (which went in off the back of the unfortunate Schwarzer). It's not as if Fulham hadn't been warned - only a minute earlier de Jong had come close with a similar chance. Baird at centre half really does improve distribution from the back with his long raking passes, but has a tendency to get caught underneath crosses, which is what happened at the equaliser.
Second half Fulham again started brightly, although only Dempsey really looked like a goal threat. AJ should have scored again with the simplest chance of the match, but hit it straight at Twente's keeper. Strange though that when Zamora replaced Johnson, Fulham's attacking impetus practically stopped. I think the Twente back four are more used to playing against the sort of challenges that Zamora offers rather than AJ's selfless running and things just stopped happening. Duff was practically invisible when he came on for Kasami - I've never seen him so anonymous.
The impetus then switched to Twente for the last fifteen minutes after some needless and sloppy play at the back for Fulham and in the end both teams were happy with a point knowing they've just played the hardest team in their Europa Group.
A novelty for me then watching on TV - and I'm slightly worried about co-pundit Graham Taylor. In the first half he talked about Fulham's unbeaten European home record with the co-commentator and then in the second half brought it up again as if it was a totally new discussion. Very strange. I will agree with them one one thing though - Twente's Douglas was a very impressive player.

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