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Until the last minute of Fulham FC's UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg against VfL Wolfsburg it seemed that the home side would have a 2-0 lead to take to Germany next Thursday – only for a last-minute away goal to open up the tie and leave winger Clint Dempsey frustrated.
Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff had both scored for Fulham in the space of four second-half minutes as the game came alive after the break, but in the last ten minutes Wolfsburg pushed hard and were rewarded in the nick of time by Alexander Madlung's headed goal. Dempsey, who struck late himself a fortnight ago to complete a memorable comeback to eliminate Juventus, felt Fulham deserved a bigger advantage.
I thought we dominated both halves," Dempsey said. "We had most of the possession and took the game more to them than they took it to us. We could have possibly won 3-0 if a few shots had gone our way. I had a shot that was going far post but was deflected that looked like it was going to go in. Zoltán [Gera] had a good chance that was deflected. We were more dangerous throughout the game and I thought the better team won."
On the other hand, goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer looked at the positives from Fulham's defeat of their fellow first-time quarter-finalists. "You take everything into consideration – they are the current German champions, they have scored a hell of a lot of goals this season, you have got to be happy with a 2-1 lead," he said.
That Fulham have the advantage is thanks in no small part to Zamora, who missed training through illness on Wednesday, but was able to start and not only scored but set up the second for Duff, who had himself helped create the opener. Zamora said: "Damien made a great run up the outside and took the defenders away for me. He's a great player and an intelligent player, he knew what he was doing. And it was nice to return the favour."
Obafemi Martins, who came off the bench for Wolfsburg at two down, had a familiar feeling having lost 2-1 on two of his three visits to Craven Cottage with former club Newcastle United FC. "
Fulham have a good team and they really played well today," the striker said. "But at the same time, luckily we got the goal which makes a big difference. I tried my best but the goalkeeper saved my shot. We have to see what happens when they come to Wolfsburg."
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