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Fulham frustrated in Croatia
Published : 28 Jul 2011 21:00:48Rss feed
Fulham endured a frustrating evening in Croatia as RNK Split eked out a goalless draw in the Europa League third qualifying round.
The Cottagers failed to impress at Dugopolje's Stadion Hrvatski Vitezovi and struggled to unleash a menacing attack at any stage of the first leg.
Split proved the more dangerous force and had two gilt-edged chances to score, with Ante Erceg fluffing a one-on-one opportunity in the sixth minute before substitute Duje Cop missed an equally inviting chance in the dying minutes of the game.
The home side started well and Erceg fired a shot across goal in the fourth minute before the same player was put through on goal, but the 21-year-old screwed his shot wide when one-on-one with Mark Schwarzer.
Split goalkeeper Andrija Vukovic was forced into his first save of the match on the half-hour mark when Bobby Zamora fired in an ambitious 25-yard drive after some neat team play.
While the end product was lacking, the Cottagers were beginning to control possession and Andrew Johnson forced the goalkeeper into action once more eight minutes later from a tight angle.
Fulham began the second period more positively and came close to scoring five minutes after the restart when Johnson broke down the right and cut the ball back for Matthew Briggs, whose shot into an empty goal was thwarted by a lunging challenge in the six-yard box.
John Arne Riise came close to finding the bottom corner with a low drive three minutes later as the visitors began to take more control of the game, before Zamora blazed a long-range effort wide.
Split began to press once more as the game entered the latter stages and Schwarzer was forced to save when Cop managed to turn his marker and force a shot in the 18-yard box.
Cop twice came close to scoring in the final 10 minutes. First he darted a header across the face of the goal, before having the home faithful on their feet when he neatly turned Chris Baird but could only manage a pitiful shot which Schwarzer easily stopped.
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