Fulham FC progressed to the third round of the UEFA Cup 5-1 on aggregate thanks to late goals from Steed Malbranque and Luis Boa Morte in a 2-1 win over NK Dinamo Zagreb at Loftus Road tonight.
The scoreline flattered a Fulham side who withstood intense pressure throughout much of the second half. Driving rain made conditions difficult for both teams and contributed to a scrappy game.
Inamoto comes close
Sylvain Legwinski for Fulham and Jasmin Agic for Dinamo both had chances early on, then on 25 minutes Japanese midfield player Junichi Inamoto shrugged off two Zagreb defenders to test Ivan Turina with a powerful shot which sailed just past the post with the keeper at full stretch.
Bjarne Goldbæk subsequently went close with a curling free-kick. The best chance of the first half, however, fell to Fulham's Facundo Sava who failed to connect with a cross from Boa Morte with the goal at his mercy.
The visiting side started the second half brightly and went ahead on 51 minutes. A high cross from the right from Dumitru Mitu found Ivica Olic in the area and the Croatian international striker headed the ball beyond Edwin van der Saar to put Zagreb ahead.
Goma the rock
The away side continued to press and Fulham's passing game started to deteriorate as Dinamo piled on the pressure. Olic and Agic were both very lively and the fact that Fulham did not fall further behind owed much to the commanding performance of Alain Goma in the home defence.
Fulham draw level
However, it was Fulham who equalised with two minutes to go. Goldbæk played the ball through to substitute Malbranque who took the ball around the goalkeeper and calmly slotted it into the net.
Boa Morte winner
In injury time Malbranque then shrugged off the attentions of defender Dario Smoje before squaring the ball to the unmarked Boa Morte who fired in the winner.
Fulham manager Jean Tigana admitted Zagreb's impressive display had forced him into making changes in the second half. "I wanted to keep Malbranque and Steve Marlet on the bench to rest them, but when Zagreb scored it changed the plan," he said.