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  • Odense 0-2 Fulham: Johnson great-double

    An Andrew Johnson brace gave Fulham a hard-fought 2-0 victory over 10-man Odense in their Europa League Group K clash at Tre-for Park, Thursday 29/09/2011.

    Johnson gave Martin Jol's side a 36th-minute lead with a low drive which Odense goalkeeper Stefan Wessels inexplicably allowed to squirm through his grasp.

    A clinical second strike from Johnson two minutes from time saw Fulham clinch an important away win which puts them second on goal difference from Dutch outfit FC Twente in Group K with Kalilou Traore's late red card an ugly irrelevance.

    Henrik Clausen was openly wary of the threat caused by the west Londoners - who came into the match on an eight-game winless streak in all competitions - and Fulham produced a performance to vindicate the Odense coach's caution.

    Odense boasted a host of Premier League experience in their squad, including former Wigan midfielder Andreas Johansson, ex-Everton keeper Wessels, former Bolton and Hull enforcer Bernard Mendy, and Manchester United flop Eric Djemba-Djemba.

    The visitors could have led as early as the seventh minute as Johnson ran at the Odense back four from deep and combined with Clint Dempsey, before the move culminated in Pajtim Kasami driving a low shot on target with Wessels did well to block away with his legs.

    But Odense came closer to netting an opener in the 12th minute as Johansson drifted over a testing cross which Bashkim Kadrii flicked into the path of Baye Djiby Fall, but his effort was athletically tipped wide by Mark Schwarzer down low to his left and at full stretch. It was a quite magnificent save.

    Fulham were perhaps unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty in the 34th minute after Mendy lunged in recklessly on Kasami, only to concede a corner; and from the resulting set piece, Dempsey had a header cleared off the line by Traore.

    Two minutes later, Fulham were in front. Dempsey surged down the left before feeding Johnson, who jinked inside and drove a fierce shot which somehow found its way through the hapless Wessels, who seemed to gather the ball, only to let it evade his grasp. Fulham have never lost a game in which Johnson has scored, and it was the assurance the visitors needed.

    Just five minutes after the break, Schwarzer was again called into action as the Australian made a fine reflex save to deny Kadrii, who continues to look dangerous, unleashing a rasping drive from the edge of the box.

    Philippe Senderos endured a torrid evening as he was run ragged by Fall and Kadrii, and the lumbering Swiss defender was booked for a last-gasp lunge as Traore fired agonisingly wide with just Schwarzer to beat.

    Clausen introduced forward Peter Utaka in an attempt to inject some additional firepower into his side, but Fulham preserved their lead with stout defending on the most part as Brede Hangeland shone.

    The Fulham players and staff were left apoplectic with rage after the excellent Matthew Briggs was scythed down crudely in what looked a horrific challenge from Traore, who was only booked for the infringement. Briggs continued gingerly, but the visitors felt very aggrieved.

    Fulham defended obdurately deep inside their half, but the tension was finally alleviated after Johnson latched on to a long ball from Hangeland, took the ball down into his path and curled an exquisite finish past Wessels and into the far corner of the net.

    Another dreadful challenge from the hot-headed Traore, this time on Damien Duff, saw the midfielder earn the second yellow card and the dismissal the Fulham players believed he deserved earlier in the match, but by this point the match was beyond the hosts.

    It was a deserved victory for Fulham in a fiercely-contested encounter, and the three points put Jol's side joint-top of Group K, behind FC Twente only on goal difference after two games with a trip to Wisla Krakow next up on October 20.
    Dan Quarrell - follow on Twitter: @danquarrell
    Source: Eurosport


    Odense: Wessels, Ruud, Christensen, Reginiussen, Mendy, Andreasen, Johansson, Traore, Djemba-Djemba, Kadrii, Djiby Fall. Subs: Toppel, Utaka, Skoubo, Chris Sorensen, Gislason, Larsen, Hoegh
    Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, Briggs, Kasami, Murphy, Duff, Etuhu, Dempsey, Johnson. Subs: Etheridge, Riise, Sidwell, Baird, Orlando Sa, Frei, Grygera


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