Fulham yesterday moved on to the semifinals of the Europa League. The Cottagers beat Wolfsburg 1 - 0 and 3 - 1 on aggregate. This is an incredible accomplishment for the club. Going into the match I was fearful of the powerful Wolfsburg strikers. I was also confident that Fulham could score a goal on the road.
Roy Hogdson's club were in top form last night. Now it is time for me to look back and see how my "5 keys" that I posted on Wednesday were a factor in the match. Below is " my analysis of my 5 keys to victory for Fulham in the Europa League against Wolfsburg.
1. Fulham need to survive the first 20 minutes without giving up a goal. Well, Fulham definitely succeeded in this key. They didn't give up a goal the entire match. However, in this 20 minute period Fulham were under great pressure. Wolfsburg almost got a goal. In the 12th minute Grafite was called offsides as he shot the ball into the net. The goal did not count. The defense for Fulham were fantastic. Not only did Fulham survive the first 20 minutes I think they were thriving. The Bobby Zamora goal 23 seconds in the match definitely helped with Fulham's confidence that they could get the job done.
2. Fuham need Mark Schwarzer to play an exceptional match. Mark Schwarzer was exceptional last night. He did have a great amount of help from his defense as well. He made some great saves off of the very dangerous Edin Dzeko. He was a major key to the victory.
3. Fulham need to be near perfect on set pieces. Since Fulham did not give up a goal I guess you can say they were perfect. There were though some scary moments throughout the match on set pieces. To Fulham's credit they did handle them.
4. Fulham need to take advantage of any opening Wolfsburg gives them to score. What was so great about yesterday's match is that Fulham didn't sit back. Fulham came out and attacked when they had the chance. Fulham could have easily sat back after the Zamora goal. The team did the exact opposite. I think they were desperately looking for that second goal to really put the game in control.
5. Damien Duff needs to be dangerous tomorrow. Damien Duff I thought was dangerous yesterday. He wasn't involved in a goal, but he was very involved in the attacking play that Fulham showed Wolfsburg. I am so glad he is on Fulham.
All these keys I think were factor in the match. Yesterday's victory for Fulham was a tremendous accomplishment. Just when I think Fulham are done surprising me they do it again with a huge victory on the road. Now it is on to the semifinals of the Europa League. Fulham fans can keep dreaming.