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Gera puts Fulham on the front foot

Enjoying a fruitful partnership with Bobby Zamora, Zoltán Gera tells Fulham FC to go for goals at VfL Wolfsburg despite taking a 2-1 lead into the quarter-final decider in Germany.

Zoltán Gera (left) challenges Wolfsburg's Zvjezdan Misimović at Craven Cottage
Zoltán Gera (left) challenges Wolfsburg's Zvjezdan Misimović at Craven Cottage ©AFP

While conceding a last-minute goal at home to VfL Wolfsburg last week denied Fulham FC the chance to take a 2-0 lead into Thursday's UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg in Germany, the London club still hold an advantage which playmaker Zoltán Gera is keen to increase.

Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff scored in the second half at Craven Cottage before Alexander Madlung headed an away goal for Wolfsburg, who, like Fulham, are appearing in their first major European quarter-final. A 0-0 draw would be enough for the visitors at the VfL Wolfsburg Arena but Gera knows that against a side containing Edin Džeko and Grafite, with 11 UEFA competition goals between them this season, going for a draw would be a dangerous game for Fulham to play.

"We are happy with the victory but 2-0 would have been better," the 30-year-old Hungarian international told UEFA.com. "It's 2-1, there is another leg and we need to score goals to make sure we have a chance of going through."

Gera has been playing as a withdrawn strike partner for Zamora and both have managed five UEFA Europa League goals in a campaign that has already accounted for FC Basel 1893, FC Shakhtar Donetsk and, dramatically, Juventus. "It's good to play with Bobby," Gera said. "He is getting better. It's good to have a partnership with him. He's strong, he can keep the ball and score goals."

While most of the Fulham team have entered uncharted European territory, Mark Schwarzer – who kept out Džeko and Grafite at Craven Cottage – reached the 2005/06 UEFA Cup final with Middlesbrough FC. That club could hardly lay claim to much European pedigree either, so the goalkeeper knows just what this run has meant to Fulham.

"It is huge what we have already accomplished for the club and as players we want to continue it," Schwarzer said. "You need to ask the chairman and the fans how big an achievement they think it is, but as players we are on the verge of something huge and if we can stay focused and continue the run like we have this season, we can rewrite the history books even more at this club."