Forlan delivers the heartbreaking moment for Fulham
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at the Nordbank Arena, Hamburg
Fulham's brave bid to lift the Europa League ended in heartbreak as Diego Forlan's winner deep into extra time gave Atletico Madrid victory at Hamburg's Nordbank Arena.
The final looked destined for a penalty shoot-out until former Manchester United striker Forlan took advantage of strike partner Sergio Aguero's persistence to send a deflected finish beyond Mark Schwarzer with only four minutes left.
Forlan poached another close range finish to put Atletico ahead in the first half, but Simon Davies responded swiftly with a volleyed equaliser for Fulham to spark hopes of a first European trophy heading to Craven Cottage.
But Forlan, tormentor of Liverpool in the semi-final, seems intent on making up for his unfulfilling spell at Old Trafford by inflicting pain on Premier League teams every time they cross his path - and how Fulham felt the agony as their players lay on the turf as Atletico celebrated wildly celebrated the decisive goal.
Hodgson saddened by Fulham loss
Atletico created the better opportunities in a final short on serious excitement, with Forlan striking a post and Aguero somehow poking wide from almost on the goalline in the first period of extra time.
Fulham will feel nothing but despair at their failure to close out a season that has captured the imagination of the nation with silverware, but they have delivered pride to themselves, their fans and the Premier League as they took on some of Europe's elite and only fell at the final hurdle.
Hodgson's side could not quite touch previous heights in Hamburg, unquestionably hindered by the fitness problems suffered by striker Bobby Zamora, their European talisman who battled gallantly without reward despite the handicap of an Achilles tendon injury that is now expected to require surgery.
The successes enjoyed in the Europa League have enhanced Fulham's reputation - especially that of their manager Hodgson. They must now hope they can ward off interest from other clubs understandably impressed by his remarkable rejuvenation of a club on course for the Championship when he was appointed.
Fulham, as expected, were able to call on Zamora and Duff - but it was Atletico's dangerous strike duo of Forlan and Aguero who emerged as central figures in the Spanish side's domination of the first half.
Danny Murphy carelessly, and almost fatally, presented Aguero with possession in dangerous territory and would have been the most relieved man in the Nordbank Arena to see Forlan's shot glance away off the post after he was played in by the Argentine.
And Fulham keeper Schwarzer needed to be alert to hold on to Jose Antonio Reyes' angled free-kick at the second attempt as it headed for the top corner.
Davies finally gave Atletico keeper David de Gea work to do with a snap shot that he clutched above his head, but Atletico made the breakthrough their supremacy merited after 32 minutes.
There was an element of good fortune for Atletico as Aguero's miscued shot was transformed into the perfect pass for the lurking Forlan to steer past Schwarzer from close range.
Forlan had another shot saved by Schwarzer as Atletico looked to press home their advantage -but as so often this season, just when they looked in serious trouble, Fulham found a way of fighting back eight minutes before half-time.
Zoltan Gera's cross took a deflection and fell at the far post for Davies, who accepted the invitation to flash the sweetest of half volleys beyond De Gea before he had any hope of reacting.
Zamora, who has been fighting a losing battle with an Achilles tendon injury, was replaced by Clint Dempsey early in the second half as Fulham finally showed signs of gaining a measure of control on the game.
And it was Davies who almost completed the turnaround on the hour when he delivered an instant strike from a poor Atletico clearance, but this time De Gea was able to make the block.
The game then drifted listlessly towards extra time, although Atletico finished the stronger. Several Fulham players needed massages before the action got under way again to combat the effects of their exertions.
Fulham survived an anxious moment 10 minutes into the extra period when Schwarzer could only palm away Forlan's low driven cross, but it escaped Aguero as he waited to pounce inside the six-yard box.
Hodgson's men then had an even bigger escape when Forlan left Chris Baird behind as he surged into the box, but in the ensuing scramble Aguero somehow poked wide from a yard out with the goal gaping.
As penalties beckoned, Atletico struck so late that it was impossible for even Fulham to mount a response. Aguero got the better of Chris Baird, and his cross was touched in by Forlan to provide a bitter conclusion to this wonderful European journey.
120:00+2:23 The match has finished after extra time.
120:00+1:30 Zoltan Gera is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by David De Gea.
120:00 Jose Manuel Jurado takes a short corner.
118:18 Substitution Juan Valera replaces Sergio Aguero.
117:55 Substitution Jonathan Greening is brought on as a substitute for Danny Murphy.
117:07 Booking Diego Forlan is cautioned.
115:42 The assist for the goal came from Sergio Aguero.
115:42 GOAL - Diego Forlan:Atletico Madrid 2 - 1 Fulham Diego Forlan fires in a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Atletico Madrid 2-1 Fulham.
115:37 Sergio Aguero delivers the ball,
Correction - 113:37 Direct free kick taken by Danny Murphy.
Correction - 113:37 Booking The referee cautions Escudero Raul Garcia for unsporting behaviour.
113:37 Free kick taken by Danny Murphy.
113:37 Booking Luis Amaranto Perea booked for unsporting behaviour.
Correction - 113:32 Luis Amaranto Perea concedes a free kick for a foul on Clinton Dempsey.
113:32 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Clinton Dempsey by Luis Amaranto Perea.
113:22 The ball is crossed by Tomas Ujfalusi, Chris Baird makes a clearance.
112:30 Simon Davies delivers the ball, Effort on goal by Erik Nevland from inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
112:06 Escudero Raul Garcia challenges Clinton Dempsey unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Danny Murphy.
110:21 A cross is delivered by Tomas Ujfalusi, Diego Forlan has an effort at goal from the edge of the area that misses to the right
of the target.
108:27 Unfair challenge on Clinton Dempsey by Tomas Ujfalusi results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Danny Murphy, Clinton Dempsey
challenges Luis Amaranto Perea unfairly and gives away a free kick. David De Gea takes the direct free kick.
107:11 Clinton Dempsey fouled by Escudero Raul Garcia, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Danny Murphy,
save by David De Gea.
106:20 Paul Konchesky fouled by Eduardo Salvio, the ref awards a free kick. Mark Schwarzer restarts play with the free kick.
105:37 Eduardo Salvio delivers the ball, Dickson Etuhu manages to make a clearance.
Extra Time Started
105:01 The second half of extra time gets under way.
Extra Time Half Time
105:00+0:12 Sergio Aguero has an effort at goal from close range which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
104:30 Sergio Aguero takes a shot. Blocked by Paul Konchesky.
100:31 The ball is sent over by Jose Manuel Jurado, Diego Forlan takes a shot. Mark Schwarzer makes a save.
100:21 Diego Forlan produces a cross.
98:05 Erik Nevland fouled by Luis Amaranto Perea, the ref awards a free kick. Shot on goal comes in from Simon Davies from the free
97:59 The ball is swung over by Zoltan Gera, Luis Amaranto Perea makes a clearance.
97:22 Eduardo Salvio is adjudged to have handled the ball. Direct free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
97:11 Tomas Ujfalusi produces a cross, Aaron Hughes makes a clearance.
95:19 Erik Nevland sends in a cross.
93:18 Free kick awarded for a foul by Clinton Dempsey on Luis Amaranto Perea. Free kick taken by David De Gea.
92:40 Simon Davies delivers the ball, blocked by Luis Amaranto Perea.
92:13 Simon Davies takes the inswinging corner, David De Gea makes a save.
90:50 Shot from just outside the box by Jose Manuel Jurado goes over the target.
90:11 Shot from a long way out by Simon Davies goes wide of the left-hand post.
Extra Time Started
90:00+2:18 The whistle goes to signal the end of normal time, with extra time looming.
90:00+1:42 Tomas Ujfalusi crosses the ball.
90:00+0:06 The official flags Erik Nevland offside. Guerrero Antonio Lopez takes the indirect free kick.
89:20 The offside flag is raised against Zoltan Gera. Indirect free kick taken by David De Gea.
88:04 Paul Konchesky is ruled offside. David De Gea takes the free kick.
86:55 Escudero Raul Garcia challenges Zoltan Gera unfairly and gives away a free kick. Danny Murphy produces a shot on goal direct
from the free kick.
86:06 Shot from long distance by Escudero Raul Garcia goes wide of the left-hand post.
85:51 A cross is delivered by Tomas Ujfalusi, clearance by Aaron Hughes.
84:47 Free kick awarded for a foul by Tomas Ujfalusi on Zoltan Gera. Direct free kick taken by Paul Konchesky.
83:22 Substitution Erik Nevland on for Damien Duff.
83:04 Escudero Raul Garcia takes a shot.
79:05 Tomas Ujfalusi takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the bar.
78:45 Outswinging corner taken by Jose Manuel Jurado.
78:21 Unfair challenge on Sergio Aguero by Dickson Etuhu results in a free kick. Tomas Ujfalusi restarts play with the free kick.
77:29 Substitution Eduardo Salvio is brought on as a substitute for Jose Antonio Reyes.
73:31 Dickson Etuhu challenges Sergio Aguero unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sergio Aguero produces a shot on goal direct from
the free kick, save by Mark Schwarzer.
71:28 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Simon Davies from the left by-line, save by David De Gea.
71:03 Centre by Guerrero Antonio Lopez, clearance made by Brede Hangeland.
70:05 Guerrero Antonio Lopez produces a cross, Paul Konchesky manages to make a clearance.
69:40 The ball is sent over by Jose Antonio Reyes, clearance made by Aaron Hughes.
67:12 Substitution Jose Manuel Jurado joins the action as a substitute, replacing Sabrosa Simao.
Correction - 67:06 Damien Duff has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the target.
66:56 The ball is swung over by Damien Duff, Damien Duff has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the
64:53 Chris Baird gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sabrosa Simao. Sabrosa Simao crosses the ball from the free
kick right-footed from left wing, save by Mark Schwarzer.
64:13 Zoltan Gera fouled by Escudero Raul Garcia, the ref awards a free kick. Paul Konchesky takes the direct free kick.
63:45 Silva Paulo Assuncao fouled by Simon Davies, the ref awards a free kick. Luis Amaranto Perea takes the direct free kick.
62:33 Sabrosa Simao restarts play with the free kick.
62:33 Booking Brede Hangeland goes into the referee's book.
62:20 Free kick awarded for a foul by Brede Hangeland on Sergio Aguero.
59:54 Simon Davies takes a shot. Save made by David De Gea.
57:25 A cross is delivered by Tomas Ujfalusi.
56:52 The offside flag is raised against Clinton Dempsey. Indirect free kick taken by David De Gea.
56:18 Centre by Simon Davies.
56:04 Damien Duff delivers the ball, clearance made by Tomas Ujfalusi.
54:37 Substitution Clinton Dempsey replaces Bobby Zamora.
53:50 Guerrero Antonio Lopez has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
51:56 Free kick awarded for a foul by Zoltan Gera on David De Gea. David De Gea restarts play with the free kick.
50:54 Guerrero Antonio Lopez delivers the ball, Mark Schwarzer makes a save.
50:35 The assistant referee flags for offside against Bobby Zamora. Indirect free kick taken by Tomas Ujfalusi.
49:59 Zoltan Gera crosses the ball, clearance made by Luis Amaranto Perea.
45:57 The ball is sent over by Guerrero Antonio Lopez, clearance by Brede Hangeland.
45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
45:00+0:07 The players leave the pitch at half time.
44:31 Sabrosa Simao takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer.
44:19 Inswinging corner taken by Sabrosa Simao from the left by-line.
44:06 Sergio Aguero takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer.
43:52 Corner taken short by Sabrosa Simao.
43:32 Jose Antonio Reyes produces a cross, Paul Konchesky gets a block in.
43:16 Inswinging corner taken by Jose Antonio Reyes from the right by-line, save by Mark Schwarzer.
42:33 Sabrosa Simao takes a inswinging corner.
41:58 Inswinging corner taken by Sabrosa Simao from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Danny Murphy.
40:45 Free kick awarded for a foul by Danny Murphy on Sabrosa Simao. Free kick crossed right-footed by Sabrosa Simao, clearance
by Chris Baird.
38:55 Effort from just outside the area by Silva Paulo Assuncao goes over the bar.
38:31 Guerrero Antonio Lopez takes a short corner.
36:46 GOAL - Simon Davies:Atletico Madrid 1 - 1 Fulham Simon Davies fires in a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Atletico Madrid 1-1 Fulham.
35:26 Zoltan Gera is adjudged to have handled the ball. Direct free kick taken by David De Gea.
35:05 The ball is swung over by Paul Konchesky.
33:24 Sergio Aguero takes a shot. Mark Schwarzer makes a save.
31:10 Assist by Sergio Aguero.
31:10 GOAL - Diego Forlan:Atletico Madrid 1 - 0 Fulham Diego Forlan gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Atletico
Madrid 1-0 Fulham.
28:01 Free kick awarded for a foul by Guerrero Antonio Lopez on Bobby Zamora. Danny Murphy takes the direct free kick.
27:16 Unfair challenge on Escudero Raul Garcia by Dickson Etuhu results in a free kick. Centre by Sabrosa Simao, Alvaro Dominguez
takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer.
26:57 Tomas Ujfalusi sends in a cross, Danny Murphy manages to make a clearance.
26:45 A cross is delivered by Sergio Aguero, Brede Hangeland makes a clearance.
24:36 Jose Antonio Reyes challenges Paul Konchesky unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
23:56 Centre by Sergio Aguero, Aaron Hughes makes a clearance.
22:08 Shot from just outside the box by Diego Forlan goes over the bar.
20:04 Brede Hangeland fouled by Sabrosa Simao, the ref awards a free kick. Mark Schwarzer takes the free kick.
19:37 Dickson Etuhu takes a shot. David De Gea makes a save.
19:11 Zoltan Gera fouled by Guerrero Antonio Lopez, the ref awards a free kick. Aaron Hughes takes the direct free kick.
16:41 Effort on goal by Zoltan Gera from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
14:21 Foul by Dickson Etuhu on Tomas Ujfalusi, free kick awarded. Jose Antonio Reyes fires a strike on goal direct from the free
kick, save made by Mark Schwarzer.
13:41 Foul by Simon Davies on Tomas Ujfalusi, free kick awarded. Luis Amaranto Perea takes the direct free kick.
11:08 Shot by Diego Forlan from deep inside the penalty box hits the post.
9:09 The referee blows for offside against Bobby Zamora. Free kick taken by David De Gea.
7:57 The ball is swung over by Jose Antonio Reyes, save by Mark Schwarzer.
Correction - 6:54 Corner taken right-footed by Sabrosa Simao from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Zoltan Gera.
6:54 Corner taken right-footed by Diego Forlan to the near post, Zoltan Gera manages to make a clearance.
6:40 Escudero Raul Garcia takes a shot. Zoltan Gera gets a block in.
6:14 The official flags Bobby Zamora offside. Free kick taken by David De Gea.
5:46 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Zoltan Gera by Luis Amaranto Perea. Zoltan Gera takes the direct free kick.
0:00 The game begins.
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