Europe

Fulham rallies to reach first Euro final

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Fulham reached the Europa League final when it scored twice in the space of six second-half minutes to beat Hamburger SV 2-1 on Thursday.

In Fulham's first ever European final, the London club will be one win away from a first piece of major silverware in its history.

With the first leg having finished 0-0, Hamburg took the lead in the semifinal when Mladen Petric scored with a dipping 21st-minute free kick.

UEFA Europa League

 
Thu., Apr. 22
Atletico 1-0 Liverpool | Recap
Hamburg 0-0 Fulham | Recap
Thu., Apr. 29
Liverpool 2-1 (aet) Atletico | Recap
Fulham 2-1 Hamburg | Recap
Wed., May 12 - FINAL
Atletico 2-1 (aet) Fulham | Recap
 

But Fulham's fairytale European campaign produced a new twist with first Simon Davies equalizing in the 69th then Zoltan Gera grabbing the winner from close range.

The London minnow, which has also eliminated UEFA Cup champion Shakhtar Donetsk, Italian giant Juventus and German champion Wolfsburg in this campaign, will return to Hamburg's ground, the HSH-Nordbank Arena, for the final on May 12.

Hamburg was looking to play in the final in front of its own fans but Fulham's amazing comeback put paid to those hopes.

It looked like being an ideal start to life as interim Hamburg coach for Ricardo Moniz, who took over on a temporary basis following the firing of Bruno Labbadia on Monday.

Moniz's side almost conceded a goal in the third minute when striker Bobby Zamora - an injury doubt ahead of the game - exchanged passes with Gera before shooting straight at goalkeeper Frank Rost.

But the six-time German champion dominated possession for most of the first half and deservedly went ahead when Petric whipped a superb 30-yard (meter) free kick over the defensive wall and into the top corner.

Fulham now needed two goals to go through but with Zamora clearly not fully fit, the English club had no presence up front and just before halftime, Hamburg winger Jonathan Pitroipa cut inside and drilled a low effort just wide.

Fulham was a different proposition after the break and after Damien Duff saw his glancing shot drift wide, fellow midfielder Davies controlled a pass by Danny Murphy, cut inside Guy Demel and guided a left-foot shot in off the post.

The host then dramatically took the lead when Davies' outswinging corner rebounded off Demel back towards Gera, who swiveled and fired home from eight yards (meters).

Hamburg piled the pressure on in the last 10 minutes but Fulham easily held on to make the final.

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