Murphy rolls over Swiss
Fulham moved top of Group E with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Basle at Craven Cottage. Danny Murphy scored the only goal of the game on 57 minutes to give Roy Hodgson's men their first three-point haul in the group. The Fulham skipper stroked the ball home from inside the box after Andy Johnson burst down the right and cut the ball back for the midfielder. Fulham rode their luck at times with Mark Schwarzer making a number of fine saves and Benjamin Huggel missing a sitter in the first-half. Fulham entered the match without a replacement keeper on the bench after they failed to have Pascal Zuberbuhler registered for the match. Injuries to David Stockdale and their two B-list keepers forced Fulham to seek special dispensation to have Zuberbuhler, a former Basle favourite, included but it was rejected by European football's governing body. Panic reigned in Fulham's defence early on when Behrang Safari easily rounded Stephen Kelly and set up Frei but the Switzerland international's scuffed shot drifted wide. Moments later Johnson pounced on a mistake by Serkan Sahin, drifted inside with a turn of pace and fired just inches wide of the right post. Basle had stated before the game they intended leaving Craven Cottage with the second win of their Europa League campaign and their ambition was evident on the pitch. Fulham were having problems containing their slick passing game and they should have fallen behind when Streller expertly found Huggel only for the veteran midfielder to blaze over from close range. Murphy sent a free-kick over the cross bar as Fulham began to do a better job of retaining possession. After their early flurry, the tempo of Basle's game had dropped noticeably and they became less of a threat in the final third. Keeper Franco Costanzo snatched the ball from Johnson's feet on the stroke of half-time, forcing the Fulham striker to slip, but referee Michael Weiner ignored the ensuing claims for a penalty. The opening 10 minutes of the second half saw lots of passing from both sides with little end effect until Clint Dempsey blasted narrowly wide. But the deadlock was broken in the 57th minute when Kelly released Johnson who sped to the byline before cutting back to the edge of the area where an unmarked Murphy powered home. Their tails up, Fulham began attacking with greater precision and numbers with one dangerous ball by Bjorn Helge Riise cleared by David Abraham as Jonathan Greening was waiting to pounce. Johnson was tripped by Safari as he raced into the area and shook his head as Weiner refused to give a penalty. Streller missed a glorious chance to equalise from seven yards out with eight minutes to go, allowing Fulham to cling onto all three points.
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