Martin Jol commended his side for the "bright start" they made to their UEFA Europa League campaign in his first game in charge of Fulham FC, even if he felt the 3-0 first qualifying round first leg triumph against NSÍ Runavík could have been more emphatic. "The only disappointing thing was that we only scored three goals," said the Dutchman.
Jol could barely disguise his delight when he returned to the Premier League as Fulham manager last month and he was again all smiles after the west Londoners kicked off their European adventure with a comfortable win against the Faroese visitors. Goals from Damien Duff, Danny Murphy and Andrew Johnson earned the hosts a three-goal first-leg lead and the former Tottenham Hotspur FC and AFC Ajax boss was satisfied.
"If I say it is 'job done', you will tell everyone I said the job has been done so I will just say it's a good score," said Jol. "We started off brightly and then it was difficult to find the spare man up front. The second half was better. If there was no possibility to play it up to Andy Johnson or Bobby Zamora, you had to play down the flanks and in the second half that was better."
A pleasing victory was mitigated by missed chances that might have yielded a more flattering scoreline, though Jol suggested ring-rustiness had a part to play for a team for whom pre-season training has only just begun. "
The only disappointing thing was that we only scored three goals but I will forgive them because they were tired. We had a hard week's training and the players worked very hard. Most of them are not match fit."
Jol shared his Craven Cottage debut with Lauri Dalla Valle, the 19-year-old forward who took his Fulham bow as a 78th-minute substitute and almost marked it with a goal, narrowly failing to connect with a low Matthew Briggs cross. "For his age group he's a good finisher," explained Jol. "He could have scored but it sends a message to the others that even if you're young, if you work hard you can get a game."
Dalla Valle was nonetheless enthused by his first runout for the club he joined from Liverpool FC last August, as this is a competition he holds close to his heart. "The manager is talking a lot to all the players in training, including the younger ones," the Finnish Under-21 international said. "It gives younger players a lift when he speaks to you and gives you advice, so it's all very positive.
When I was at Liverpool I played in the Europa League, it's a very good competition. If we progress to the group stage, which of course I hope we do, then it gives us the chance of more games throughout the season. That can only give young players like myself even more of a chance to show what we can do."
Dalla Valle will hope for another opportunity to shine on 7 July when his side visit the Faroe Islands for the return leg. The overall winners face Crusaders FC in the second qualifying round, on 14 and 21 July.
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