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Fulham 3-0 FK Vetra (6-0 Agg): Cottagers progress

last updated Friday 07th August 2009, 8:47 AM
 Fulham striker  Andrew Johnson
Fulham striker
Andrew Johnson
gets a brace
Fulham's name will join some of the most illustrious names in European football when the draw is made for the play-off phase of the Europa League after easing to a 3-0 win against FK Vetra to progress 6-0 on aggregate.

Roy Hodgson's men brushed aside the Lithuanian minnows to join the likes of Ajax, Lazio, Valencia and 2008 UEFA Cup winners Zenit St Petersburg in the hat.

Fulham wasted a glut of first-half chances before Dickson Etuhu's header finally broke the deadlock and Andrew Johnson sealed the win with two late strikes.

The Premier League will have three sides competing in the play-off stage, although Fulham will not be able to draw Everton or Aston Villa.

The tie was as good as won before this clash at a rain-sodden Craven Cottage after Fulham's 3-0 first leg win last Thursday night.

The only change Hodgson made to his side was replacing Chris Baird with the powerful frame of Etuhu in central midfield.

Brede Hangeland continued in the heart of Fulham's defence hours after Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger confirmed he was considering the Norwegian international as a potential replacement for Kolo Toure.

Hangeland had very little to do in a one-sided affair that at times appeared little more than a Fulham training run designed to help Paul Konchesky improve his crossing.

Fulham were on the front foot right from kick-off. Zoltan Gera escaped the Vetra off-side trap after two minutes and drilled in a low angled shot which Bobby Zamora intercepted, only to turn and fire his own effort wide.

Fulham's concentrated their early attacks down the left side, where Johnson and Clint Dempsey linked well to release Konchesky on the overlap.

The former England full-back was repeatedly afforded space in which to work but the accuracy of his crossing was poor and Vetra were able to scramble the ball away.

The visitors, who spent most of the night with 10 men behind the ball, were tough in the tackle and they coped patiently, if unconvincingly, with the early pressure.

But Fulham failed to really test Povilas Valincius in the Vetra goal as Bobby Zamora glanced a header wide from Konchesky's corner.

Ironically, it was Vetra who forced the first decent save of the evening as Mark Schwarzer tipped a rasping long-range drive from Tomas Razanuaskas over the bar.

Fulham continued to press forward down the left and engineered their best chance of the half when Konchesky cut back onto his right foot and lifted a cross towards Johnson.

The striker flicked his header onto the woodwork and when Gera latched onto the rebound his shot was cleared off the line by defender Gediminas Paulauskas.

Fulham enjoyed further success down the left as Johnson cut inside and rifled a shot goalwards that forced Vetra keeper Valinicius into a panicked punch clear.

Fulham kept the pressure on and when the ball fell to Konchesky 30 yards out he unleashed a powerful drive that whistled just wide of the far post.

Still the chances came, and still they went. Gera, unmarked on the penalty spot, made a hash of his header and Dempsey lifted a shot over the bar after a neat cut-back from Johnson.

Fulham's profligacy was beginning to test the crowd's patience when they finally made the breakthrough after 56 minutes, when Etuhu met Konchesky's out-swinging corner and directed his header inside the far post.

Zamora was not enjoying his finest evening at the Cottage and he wasted a golden chance after by mis-placing a simple inside pass for the unmarked Johnson.

But Johnson soon succeeded in doubling Fulham's lead on the night by stealing in front of his defender towards the near post, where he met Dempsey's cross with a neat finish.

And five minutes later, substitute Eddie Lewis escaped his man and picked out Johnson for another close-range finish as Fulham sealed a 6-0 aggregate victory.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil (Kelly 78), Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Dempsey, Etuhu, Murphy, Gera (Riise 78), Zamora (Eddie Johnson 82), Andrew Johnson
Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Baird, Seol, Nevland.

Booked: Kelly. (90,f)

Goals: Etuhu 57, Andrew Johnson 80, 84.

FK Vetra: Valincius, Borovskij, Kijanskas, Jankauskas, Paulauskas, Grigalevicius (Moroz 57), Razanauskas, Stanaitis, Vezevicius (Eliosius 46), Grigaitis, Vasiliauskas (Zulpa 80).
Subs Not Used: Galdikas, Bucholc, Ngapounou, Kulbis.

Att: 15,016

Ref: Istvan Vad (Hungary)

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