Roma 2 Fulham 1: match report
Fulham were denied possibly one of their most famous victories, in the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday night, when a family affair showed little brotherly love, with John Arne Riise bringing Roma back into the game when his shot deflected off kid brother Bjorn Helge Riise. And having lost one goal, Fulham conceded a quick second, meaning that their hopes of qualifying could depend on winning in Switzerland, against FC Basel next month. Related ArticlesHamburg 0 Celtic 0Everton 0 Benfica 2Europa League tablesEuropa League fixturesSport on televisionAnd to add insult to injury, they finished with nine men when Paul Konchesky was sent off, again harshly, for a challenge on Rodrigo Taddei. Fulham, reduced to 10 men for most of the second half when substitute Erik Nevland was harshly dismissed, were leading through Diomansy Kamara's early penalty and, despite the red card were holding on with determination before Riise and Riise combined to spoil the London club's night. And with the pressure on, Stefano Okaka Chuka scored a simple second to break Fulham's resolve. Fulham, though, could not have hoped for a better start, taking the lead after just 19 minutes. When the teams met at Craven Cottage a fortnight earlier, their good work was undone in added time when defender Marco Andreolli claimed an equaliser. But on this occasion, Andreolli caught the ankles of Kamara as he chased Clint Dempsey's square pass. From the penalty spot, the Senagalese international was coolness personified as he found the bottom corner. Given that Fulham were without Andrew Johnson, Damien Duff and captain Danny Murphy and had Bobby Zamora and Chris Baird rested to the bench, this was a thoroughly impressive reponse, with Fulham continuing to impress after the goal. Kamara turned provider, setting up Dempsey, but the boy brought up in a trailer park in Texas hesitated before losing possession to Philippe Mexes. Roma, stuttering in Serie A, were beginning to frustrate their fans in the sparsely populated Stadio Olimpico. They tried to motivate their players with flares and fire crackers, but it did little to inspire the Giallorossi. Hodgson had admitted that the Stadio Olimpico had been a lucky arena for the manager and that rang true shortly before the interval when another attempt from Mexes clearly struck Fulham defender John Pantsil on the arm. Roma's players begged the referee to consult with the 'additional' assistant referee behind the goal, but the Dutchman gave nothing more than a corner. Either side of that incident Kamara substituted at half-time -- and Dempsey both squandered good opportunities, but the half-time whistle prompted jeering from the Romans who were clearly unimpressed with the limp display of their side. But, just as happened in the home tie, Fulham were reduced to ten men when Erik Nevland, a half time replacement for Kamara, had been on the pitch just four minutes when he harshly treated by Blom when he caught the ankles of Roma captain Daniele De Rossi. At Craven Cottage, Stephen Kelly was sent off, but that was late in the game. The latest undeserved dismissal reduced Fulham's numbers for most of the second half. Roma made two changes of their own at the interval with goalkeeper Doni and midfielder Cicinho making way for Julio Sergio and Rodrigo Taddei but the numerical discrepancy meant that the second half saw Fulham under pressure, and when Marco Cassetti found room at the far post, he looked set to level before finding the side netting. Mark Schwarzer had few problems in dealing with a tame effort from Baptista and as the game progressed so the organisation Hodgson has preached came to the fore. Greening was fortunate not to get a second yellow card when he fouled Cassetti and then came the harshest of equallisers. Roma's Riise, he of the trademark bullet shot, had just failed with one long-range effort when, in the 69th minute an attempt from just outside the area took a deflection off his brother and looped painfully over Schwarzer. Fulham's Riise was replaced almost immediately, but it was to get worse for Fulham when, seven minutes after the first goal, Roma scored a second, with Taddei's cross met by the head of the unmarked Okaka Chuka. It was cruel on Fulham, whose terrific work was, for the second time against Roma, undone by a harsh red card, and they received another when Konchesky departed in added time.
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