Fearless Fulham continue Euro quest

Bobby Zamora’s 19th goal of the season after just 21 seconds at the

Volkswagen Arena secured a 3-1 aggregate success after a

disciplined performance from Roy Hodgson’s side. The German

champions rarely threatened the Cottagers, who will now face

Hamburg for a place in the final. Zamora was a constant threat and

his performance was even more impressive given that he had been a

doubt before the game with an Achilles injury. Chris Baird was

preferred to fit-again Stephen Kelly at right-back while Wolfsburg

defender Jan Simunek replaced the injured Alexander Madlung, who

scored a late away goal for the Bundesliga champions in last week’s

first leg. Zamora’s return was a welcome boost for Fulham, who had

beaten the likes of Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk to reach the last

eight of the competition. Hodgson had stressed the need to pressure

Wolfsburg early on and his side duly obliged by taking the lead

after just 21 seconds. Zoltan Gera laid the ball off to Zamora, who

performed a clever turn to shrug off Simunek on the edge of the box

and beat Diego Benaglio with a calm finish. The early goal seemed

to settle any nerves and Fulham could have had a second six minutes

later but Gera was denied by a fantastic save from Benaglio. A rare

error from captain Danny Murphy allowed Christian Gentner in at the

other end but his shot was tipped around the post by Mark

Schwarzer. Wolfsburg struggled to get a grip on proceedings in an

up-tempo game but thought they had equalised in the 12th minute

before Grafite’s effort was ruled out for offside from Andrea

Barzagli’s cross. Gentner’s inswinging corner then left Schwarzer

flapping but otherwise Fulham looked in control of the tie, with

Murphy and Dickson Etuhu firmly winning the battle in midfield.

Zamora’s strike meant the Germans would have to score twice to

force extra time and the home crowd began to vent their frustration

at a lack of creativity. Highly-rated Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko,

who has been linked with a move to Chelsea, reminded Fulham of the

threat he posed by flicking on a dangerous Zvjezdan Misimovic

corner across the box in the 29th minute. Dzeko found himself in

the book soon after for kicking the ball away after referee Viktor

Kassai had blown up for a petulant push on Brede Hangeland.

Wolfsburg manager Lorenz Gunther Kostner replaced defender Peter

Pekarik with Ashkan Dejagah and the striker almost made an

immediate impact but his dangerous low cross was cut out by Aaron

Hughes. The game came to a brief standstill soon after half time

when Davies had to receive treatment after clashing with Wolfsburg

captain Josue while going up for a header. Fulham went close to

sealing the win just before the hour when Murphy’s clever chip

played Zamora through. The Fulham fans held their breath but the

striker’s first touch let him down and Benaglio came out to stifle

his tame shot. Dejagah was then booked for dissent before Kostner

threw on former Newcastle man Obafemi Martins, leaving Wolfsburg

with four strikers on the pitch. Some of the home supporters began

to leave with 20 minutes left as Wolfsburg continued to waste

possession. Murphy shot over after turning two defenders while

Zamora and Gera continued to pose a threat. Dzeko then reminded the

remaining crowd why he is such a highly-rated player when he forced

Schwarzer into a brilliant one-handed save with a volley from the

edge of the box. Simon Davies then beat the offside trap but saw

his shot turned over by Benaglio’s outstretched leg. The visiting

fans, sensing victory, chanted “Zamora for England” before the

striker had a headed goal ruled out for offside with 15 minutes

left. Fulham had a golden chance to seal the win with 10 minutes

left but Murphy’s shot was cleared off the line by Barzagli.

Hangeland then scrambled back to clear Grafite’s shot off the line

after he reacted quickest to Dzeko’s shot that had rebounded off a

post.