Danny Murphy lauded Fulham FC's "clever" performance after the English dark horses overcame yet another hurdle en route to the UEFA Europa League final, a goalless draw at Hamburger SV leaving hopes high ahead of next Thursday's return.
The hosts dominated for long periods of the last-four opener, and Murphy was the first to admit the visitors arrived with a predominantly destructive game plan. "We felt that if we kept good shape and discipline then we would limit their chances because that's what we're good at," said the 33-year-old. "With a bit more quality on the break we could have done more damage, but that would have been harsh because they did have a lot of possession."
With almost 50,000 fans packed into the Hamburg Arena, the Fulham players would have been forgiven for feeling a tad intimidated. Substitute Clint Dempsey, though, revelled in the environment. "You want to play in stadiums like this," said the striker, Fulham's hero against Juventus in the round of 16. "That's why we want to be a part of the Europa League; so we can be part of these experiences."
The Cottagers are now just one game away from their first major European final. Bobby Zamora, the quarter-final match-winner against VfL Wolfsburg, explained just how much it would mean to the club to return to northern Germany for the showpiece on 12 May. "It would be massive," he said. "It would be huge for us, but we've still got Hamburg to beat yet and from what we've seen it's going to be a very tough game."
Indeed, there is plenty of work ahead for Fulham, who, says Murphy, will be a different proposition on home soil. "
They probably think they're going to come and dominate like they did tonight, but they won't."
Dempsey pointed out that Roy Hodgson's charges will "approach the game like we approach any other"; something of a relief after the closure of much of Europe's airspace meant Fulham warmed up for the first leg with a 24-hour journey and a training session in a German lay-by. "We'll be trying to get the score we need to advance," the United States international continued. "We already know what's at stake and how we need to play."
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