With distance comes perspective, and from the very back of the Putney End the view was… well what was it? Despite my best efforts the game entirely passed me by. There they were, 22 men in white and sky blue, back and forth, up and down, then we all went home after an hour and a half of watching them run about.
Fulham did well against a team that could, on another day, have caused an upset. Dnipro had more shots and a couple of crafty players. On a couple of occasions they might even have scored, but as Barcelona showed in beating a superior Real Madrid in the last week, football is about moments. Making chances, taking chances. Fulham did this three times, their opponents not once. And that’s the game, the tie, and our participation in the group stages.
The first came from Aaron Hughes. Depending on who you ask it was either bundled home or a diving header. The cross came from Matthew Briggs, who had worked well to break free on the left. It lifted the team, for while the game stood at 0-0 there was much uncertainty in the air. You need that first goal to lighten up, sometimes.
The second was a beaut. Steve Sidwell – much better than I’d remembered him during his absence – whipped a lovely, devilish cross to the far post, where Clint Dempsey was arriving to divert home. Dempsey, yet again, scoring a first time goal following a good cross. Some player. He got another after half time, Pajtim Kasami’s cross headed home to finish the job.
There we are then. The team played well enough. Steve Kelly played at right back and was happy enough, although we must wonder what Chris Baird has done to be overlooked again. Briggs played at left back and looked the part, aggressive in his forward play and fair at the back. Sidwell had presence, and Murphy did his best Roy Cropper impression, half-grumpy as he hunched, huffed and puffed around his territory, while deep down taking pride in being the main man. It’s always a delight to watch him in discussions with team-mates; there’s a wonderful earnest intensity about his interactions. Duff and Dempsey swirled around the forward positions, hard to pick up and more or less doing what they usually do. They’re key players, no doubt. Kasami completed the attacking supporting cast, and looks like he might grow into the role. Bobby Zamora was effective leading the line.
It’s nice to have won 3-0. This season – we’re still unbeaten, let’s not forget – has been a bit underwhelming so far, so a good win against a fair side is to be welcomed.