Fulham recorded a 3-1 win against Northern Irish side Crusaders on Thursday in the first leg of the second qualifying round for the Europa League. Goals from Matthew Briggs, Bobby Zamora and Danny Murphy give the Premier League side a real advantage going into the second leg at Craven Cottage next Thursday.
Fulham were without new signing John Arne Riise, but still fielded a strong line-up. The semi-professional IFA Premiership outfit went toe-to-toe with their English opponents however, and it was only a long range Briggs strike that separated the sides at half-time. However the Seaview club equalised on 54 minutes, with Timmy Adamson controlling well in the Fulham box and cooly dispatching the finish past Mark Schwarzer.
Despite this and a good performance by the underdogs, the London outfit’s class showed in the last 15 minutes as a Zamora header and Murphy’s penalty put paid to any potential giant killing feat.
“We knew it could be tough,” Martin Jol stated after the game.
“They [Crusaders] play a very direct style, with two good, big strikers, and that’s always difficult. But we came through it well. The only disappointing thing for me was the way we conceded the goal.
“Other than that, though, we did well in the first half and recovered nicely after their goal to win. It was nice to see the youngsters like Briggs and Kerim Frei come in and do well as well,” he concluded.
When asked about out of favour Tottenham striker Robbie Keane, who the Dutchman coached during his time at White Hart Lane, the former Ajax manager was full of praise.
“Robbie’s a great player, but we’ve got great strikers here. I’m a big fan of Robbie.”