German side Hertha BSC Berlin advanced to the fourth round of the UEFA Cup after a 0-0 draw against Fulham FC at Loftus Road secured a 2-1 aggregate win.
Hertha were missing their first-leg goalscorer Stefan Beinlich while the English Premiership side welcomed back Steve Marlet up front and Alain Goma at the back. The most notable absentee for Jean Tigana's side was Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who was suffering from influenza. Maik Taylor deputised.
The first half certainly belonged to Fulham. They played with style, but could not translate their dominance into enough chances, nor finish those that came their way. This approach, recalling their form last season, played into Hertha's hands as they set out to contain the hosts and hit them on the break. These plans were damaged as early as the fifth minute however, as defender Josip Šimunic crashed into a team-mate and injured his jaw.
Šimunic was replaced by the Dutch veteran Dick van Burik, who proved a more than able deputy, making clearance after clearance when Fulham threatened. The hosts dominated possession, but had to wait until 21 minutes for their first clear-cut chance. Luis Boa Morte burst on to a Marlet flick, but shot straight at Hertha's excellent goalkeeper Gábor Kiraly.
Boa Morte chance
A minute later, Boa Morte had an even better opportunity. Marlet streaked down the right wing, beat his man and cut the ball back. With Kiraly committed, the Portuguese international mishit his shot, and it bobbled against the post.
Fulham's lack of penetration obviously troubled Tigana, and he brought on Sylvain Legwinski for the anonymous Martin Djetou at half-time. The change did not have any real impact though, as the game continued in the same vein: Hertha patiently absorbing everything that could be thrown at them.
Corner after corner, free-kick after free-kick went begging for the hosts, with Kiraly looking confident. The Hungarian goalkeeper even opted to remain on the pitch after a heavy collision with Marlet near the end, and was carried off the pitch at the close of play.
Michael Hartmann had two excellent chances to finish the game at the death, as Fulham pushed numbers forward. The second certainly was a simple chance, but with the goal gaping, he crashed the ball against the post. Still, the miss did not affect the end result, and Hertha move into tomorrow's fourth-round draw.
Meanwhile, Fulham's European dream is over. "
I am disappointed, but it is the first step for the club and we have done very well in Europe and it is important to keep going," said manager Jean Tigana.