Fulham 1 FC Basle 0: match report

01 October 2009 09:59
Fulham kick-started their season at Craven Cottage on Thursday night when Danny Murphy, the most experienced European campaigner at the club, scored the goal that takes his side to the top of Group E in the Europa League.

Fulham captain Murphy won the competition, then the Uefa Cup, with Liverpool in 2001, while his last goal for Liverpool in Europe came, curiously, against Basle, in the European Cup in 2002. On that occasion the Swiss knocked Liverpool out of the competition, so Murphy was able to exact some revenge for that memory.

 Related ArticlesDanny Murphy wants Fulham to refind formFulham 0 Arsenal 1Fulham v Arsenal: match previewFulham were without Damien Duff, Brede Hangeland, Dickson Etuhu, Simon Davies and David Stockdale. The injury to the latter meant that Fulham were unable to name a goalkeeper on the bench after Uefa, earlier in the day, rejected a request to add Pascal Zuberbühler, a former Swiss international, to their squad for the game.

In Basle, Fulham faced a team unbeaten in seven previous European games and boasting an impressive 2-0 win over Roma in their opening group game.

The early stages were unimpressive and it took until the 13th minute for a worthwhile effort. Fulham defender Stephen Kelly lost possession to Behrang Safari and he ventured forward before squaring the ball to Alexander Frei, who screwed his attempt wide.

The new experiment, of an additional two assistant referees by the goal-lines was again in force, but even with that aid they were almost camouflaged in their grey kit against a gree backdrop the referee got the next decision wrong, claiming Frei's shot got a deflection for a corner when replays clearly showed there was no intervention. Indeed, the German may have had a cast of thousands to help him but still succeeded in getting more decisions wrong than right.

Fulham responded on the counter-attack when a mistake by Serkan Sahin let in Andrew Johnson and the striker was only a foot away from finding the target from 20 yards.

The vociferous 2,000 travelling Swiss drowned what noise Fulham's faithful could utter and they thought Basle had scored when the imposing Ben Huggel volleyed narrowly over soon afterwards. Basle were beginning to dominate and, from Marco Streller's knock-down, Huggel was guilty of a worse miss, firing over when he should have given the Swiss a 24th-minute lead.

Fulham responded before the interval when, after Huggel had impeded Clint Dempsey, Murphy curled the free-kick just over.

Given that 10 of Fulham's 15 goals this season have come in Europe, Fulham should have been confident, and when Dempsey tried to break the deadlock from 30 yards, hopes were lifted, his attempt rising just wide.

And, in the 57th minute, Fulham scored what could prove to be a valuable goal when Kelly cut the ball back for Johnson, whose cross sat up nicely for Murphy, and his well-placed shot found the bottom corner.

Fulham rode their luck in the closing minutes when Streller and Antonio da Silva both when dangerously close to equalising.

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Source: Telegraph