Fulham out-classed Dnipro to take what should be an unassailable lead into the second leg.
With Martin Jol hinting, pre-match, that he`d mix his team selection up for the fixture tonight, the Dutchman wasn`t kidding. In defence Kelly and Briggs made the starting eleven, whilst in midfield our summer signing – Kasami, was given a start. Up front Jol opted for Dempsey and Zamora. The bench looked particularly healthy with the likes of John Arne Riise, Philippe Senderos, Dickson Etuhu, Andrew Johnson and Moussa Dembele available.
Fulham – Schwarzer, Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Briggs, Sidwell, Kasami, Murphy, Duff, Dempsey, Zamora
Subs – Etheridge, JA Riise, Senderos, Gecov, Etuhu, Johnson, Dembele
Amongst the opposition ranks was a certain Jan Lastuvka who spent some time at craven Cottage back in 2006/2007.
As the teams entered the arena, the rain, as it had been all day, was lashing down.
Fulham started the better of the two sides but their early endeavour only produced a shot from Briggs that Lastuvka pushed around the post. Fulham continued to dominate and Sidwell should have done better than to direct his free header straight at the Dnipro keeper.
Thankfully, the pressure told with thirty-eight minutes played when Aaron Hughes netted. The goal coming after some good work from Briggs saw a fine cross delivered for Hughes to get a touch on to guide home.
Four minutes later the lead was doubled when Clint Dempsey netted. Sidwell, pushing forward, found Dempsey in acres of space in the area and the American had time to size up the opportunity and beat Lastuvka.
Brightest player of the first half – Matthew Briggs!
Half Time – Fulham 2 Dnipro 0
Early in the second half, Fulham scored a third, with Dempsey getting his second of the game. This time the American expertly converting a deep cross from Patjim Kasami at the far post.
Fulham remained in control with Dnipro struggling to get a shot on target. Indeed, it took eighty minutes for our visitors to get a shot on target with Denisov being the player to do that.
All in all a successful night for Fulham and Martin Jol might have been forgiven fir awarding himself a wry smile with Ramos; side having it all to do in the second leg.
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