This first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals was a very interesting match. The first half was a little tight, and more defensive in nature. The second half was much more wide open. Fulham win the first leg at home at Craven Cottage 2 -1. Unfortunately for Fulham they gave up a very late goal. Wolfsburg got the important away goal going into next week's second leg. Regardless of that goal Fulham definitely deserved the win. It sets up for a great second leg in Germany.
The first half was pretty even between the clubs. Fulham started to created some chances midway in the first half. In the 22nd minute Zoltan Gera took a nice shot from distance that was saved by the goalkeeper. This shot is followed up by a great shot by Cint Dempsey from far out. Shortly afterwards a cross in the box by Bobby Zamora is saved by Benaglio.
The best chance for Wolfsburg was in the 33rd minute. A pass ended up at the feet of Dzeko and somehow got deflected right to Grafite. His blast right outside the box sailed high. Woflsburg definitely had some decent possesion during the first half as well.
Near the end of the half Fulham had 2 more decent chances. In the 42nd minute, off of a corner kick, Dickson Etuhu's header just goes over the bar. Lastly, right before the end of the half, a pass from Damien Duff leads to a Clint Dempsey rocket shot that just goes wide of the net.
As I mentioned in the beginning the first half was pretty even. Fulham had there chances, but just could not capitalize. The half ended 0 - 0.
The second half action was very different than in the first half. It was much more wide open with both clubs creating opportunities. The match in the second half was much more offensive.
Wolfsburg started the pressure in the opening minutes of the second half. In the 50th minute, Dzeko's header just goes wide of the net. In the next minute Grafite follows up with a shot of his own just outside the box. Wolfsburg were putting the heat on Fulham, but just couldn't break though at that point of the match.
It was Fulham's turn to put the pressure back on Wolfsburg. In the 59th minute, Fulham would finally breakthrough with a goal in this match. Bobby Zamora's shot just outside of the box gets past the goalkeeper in the bottom corner of the net. Fulham were now ahead 1- 0.
The Cottagers were not done, and kept the pressure on Wolfsburg. In the 63rd minute, some great play by Fulham lead to their second goal. A great pass from Paul Konchesky went to Bobby Zamora. He set a pass beautifully up for Damien Duff, and he blasted a shot past the goalkeeper. Fulham were now up 2 - 0.
Woflsburg have a very good attacking club. They would start turn the pressure back on Fulham. Edin Dzeko in the 64th minute just missed a great opportunity that went wide of the net. In the 81st minute, Grafite had a great chance to score, but his shot inside the box goes high. In the 83rd minute a nice shot by Martens is saved by Schwarzer.
The question at the end of the match was could Fulham hang on, and not give up an away goal? Wolfsburg were putting pressure on late in the match. Unfortunately for Fulham, in the 89th minute Alexander Madlung scores on a header inside the box that gets past Mark Schwarzer. This was set up by a great cross from Misimovic. This goal gave Wolfsburg that important away goal. The game shortly ended afterwards. Fulham win this leg 2-1.
Overall, Fulham played very well, and deserved to win the match. Giving up the away goal so late in the match does hurt. Now, it sets up a very interesting second leg in Germany. I am sure Wolfsburg feel confident after getting that away goal. I will tell you that Fulham should feel confident they can score there own away goal next week. At times they really had some great pressure on the German Champions. The quarterfinals are far from over, and both teams should feel confident going into the second leg.