Thursday, March 18, 2010
A Clint Dempsey wonder goal sealed a spot in the Europa League quarterfinals for Fulham who completed a miraculous comeback over Italian giants Juventus on Thursday night at Craven Cottage.

Dempsey came on as a second half substitute in the 72nd minute in place of Irish defender Stephen Kelly before deftly chipping in the deciding goal ten minutes later.

The match started out in favor of the Italians who already carried a 3-1 lead into the contest. Frenchman David Trezeguet found the back of the net just two minutes in when Hasan Salihamidzic sent in a cross for Diego who then failed to get a shot off paving the way for Trezeguet's bullet.

Facing a three goal disadvantage on the aggregate and an early away goal already conceded, the Cottagers managed to quickly regroup courtesy of Bobby Zamora in the ninth minute.

Zamora chested in Paul Konchesky lobbed cross from the left side while fending off former FIFA World Player of the Year Fabio Cannavro and slammed home the equalizer to kickstart the comeback.

Cannavaro would end up altering the balance of the match dramatically when he was given his walking papers in the 26th minute for a harsh tackle on Zoltan Gera.

The man advantage clearly worked to the favor of Roy Hodgson's club and thirteen minutes later in the 39th the hosts scored their second goal when Gera poked in Simon Davies' cross.

Fulham could smell blood at the start of the second half and it would only take three minutes to level the aggregate at 4-4.

Diego was found guilty of a handball in the penalty area and Gera scored his second of the match when he calmly converted the penalty kick as Juventus goalkeeper Antonio Chimenti was caught leaning the wrong way.

Hodgson saw his squad continue to push for the deciding strike which finally arrived via the right foot of the native Texan,

Dempsey was able to find some space just outside the right side of the penalty area and sent an arcing chip towards the far post.

The US international caught Chimenti playing too close to the near post and all the Italian netminder could do was helplessly watch as the ball floated into the top left corner of the goal sending the Fulham faithful into pandemonium.

A late red card for Jonathan Zebina effectively ended any hopes of a Juventus counterstrike as Dempsey and Fulham will now await Friday's draw to find out who will be their quarterfinal opponent.