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A key member of the Fulham FC team that reached the inaugural final, Clint Dempsey is familiar with the drama which can unfold on UEFA Europa League nights at Craven Cottage.
For as long as the United States international remains with the west London club, the striker-cum-winger will always be remembered for his goal, a delicate chip, which capped a stunning 5-4 aggregate victory over Juventus and sent them through to the quarter-finals in 2009/10.
Yet as he looked to Thursday's meeting with Wisła Kraków, the side who defeated Fulham 1-0 a fortnight ago, Dempsey hopes for a more straightforward passage this time around, into the round of 32. The Cottagers have little room for error in Group K, however − they are second, a point clear of Thursday's opponents and Odense BK. The 28-year-old appreciates how significant a home win could be.
"It's an important game for us and we definitely need the points," said Dempsey, one of Fulham's longest serving player having joined in January 2007 from New England Revolution. "
We don't want to be waiting until the last game or hoping other results to go our way. Hopefully we'll keep our destiny in our hands and get the right result. We want to get out of the group because we want to go on a nice little run and make the most of being in the competition."
Dempsey knows all about a lengthy European journey, having played in 13 of Fulham's 19 matches en route to the 2010 showpiece and a 2-1 extra-time defeat by Club Atlético de Madrid in Hamburg. "
I have some great memories playing in these games, getting to the Europa League final last time we were in was something I'll never forget," he added.
"It's nice to be in this competition because you get the opportunity to play against teams from all over." Fulham did not enjoy matchday three, when they had Moussa Dembélé sent off in the first half before succumbing to David Biton's goal on the hour. Yet Dempsey, a scorer in Saturday's 2-0 win at Wigan Athletic FC, says Thursday's game will not be like the one in Poland.
"Because we were a man down it was difficult to press them," added Dempsey, who watched the game on the TV having been rested by Martin Jol. "Given space and time on the ball they can hurt you but you'll see a different game tomorrow."
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