Striker Stefano Okaka Chuka said he hoped his winner in AS Roma's 2-1 defeat of Fulham FC would help kick start his and the Giallorossi's season, noting: "It was a nice goal and I'm happy."
Article top media content
Striker Stefano Okaka Chuka said he hoped his winner in AS Roma's 2-1 defeat of Fulham FC would help kick start his own and the Italian club's season.
"It was a nice goal and I'm happy," said the 20-year-old, whose 76th-minute header from Rodrigo Taddei's centre meant the Giallorossi – currently 14th in Serie A - leapfrog over Fulham into second place in Group E. "We didn't start well and I had some problems early on as I hadn't played for a while, but it was an important goal and we won in the end."
Born to Nigerian parents, the tall Italian praised his team-mates after getting the nod from coach Claudio Ranieri. "The goal was for my fellow players, the team and for me," he added. "I've got a great relationship with my team-mates. They want me to do well and I'm glad to have repaid their efforts. I'm gaining more confidence so the goals will come. I hope to get more games in future."
Made in Norway
Okaka Chuka's winner had come eight minutes after John Arne Riise had driven in a long-range shot that took two deflections off Fulham players, the second off his own brother Bjørn Helge Riise. "I think that the sending-off of their player changed the game," admitted Okaka, referring to Erik Nevland's 49th-minute straight red for a foul on the excellent Daniele De Rossi. "After that, we had more space and created chances."
The west London side had controlled the first half and were a goal to the good at the break, Diomansy Kamara having coolly dispatched an 18th-minute penalty after being brought down by Marco Andreolli. "We did well in the first half. We created chances and got a goal away from home which is always big," said Fulham forward Clint Dempsey whose run and pass had led to the spot kick. "When you go a man down, it changes the way you play tactically. It was difficult for us to stop them getting the ball. We were running but we got tired. It seemed like we didn't get too many calls in the attacking third. Obviously they have home field advantage."
For their penultimate fixture in Group E against PFC CSKA Sofia Fulham will be without both Nevland and Paul Konchesky, who was also shown red in added time. Despite trailing FC Basel 1893 by five points and Roma by two after four games, Dempsey remained optimistic: "We've got two more games and we need to get results but we're still in with a chance."