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Fulham boss Roy Hodgson 'on top of the world'

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Hodgson hails Fulham character

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson admitted he was "on top of the world" after seeing his side knock Juventus out of the Europa League 5-4 on aggregate.

The Cottagers' emphatic 4-1 win in the second leg capped an amazing turnaround from a 3-1 first-leg deficit and seals their place in the quarter-finals.

"I don't know if it is the biggest night in the club's history but it must come close," said Hodgson.

"It is a remarkable achievement that the boys have done so well."

Fulham went behind in the second minute to a David Trezeguet strike but they somehow recovered to pull off a remarkable comeback courtesy of goals from Clint Dempsey, Bobby Zamora and a brace from Zoltan Gera.

Their task was assisted by the dismissal of Juventus centre-back Fabio Cannavaro in the 26th minute for a professional foul on Gera as the Hungarian sought to break through on goal.

It was the first of two red cards for the Italian side, who also saw Jonathan Zebina sent off late on for kicking out at Damien Duff.

"We couldn't have had a worse start," admitted Hodgson.

"We went behind to a simple goal which made an uphill task even steeper but even from that point the team started to play well and the crowd got behind us and even at half time I thought we were looking good to win the game.

"It was never going to be impossible to turn it around and luckily that has happened."

Hodgson also praised the stamina of his side, who have now played 15 matches in the competition, during a campaign that began in July.

"To get to the quarter-finals is extremely good because we played our first match at the end of July and we will still be playing in this competition next month," said the 62-year-old.

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Midfielder Dempsey came off the bench to score the tie's winning goal - a stunning chip from the edge of the area with eight minutes remaining - and admitted that the attempt had been a gamble that paid off in style.

"I was frustrated about missing an earlier header from Simon (Davies') cross so when I got the ball it came in my mind to dink it to the far post," the 27-year-old American told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Nine times out of ten I wouldn't hit it as well but I'm happy it went in."

Dempsey thinks his goal is a sign that he is getting back to match fitness after missing the majority of 2010 so far with a cruciate knee ligament injury, suffered against Blackburn in January.

"It's good to be back," he admitted. "For me, scoring the goal says that I'm back after the injury and I've got to keep working hard and get my fitness back and hopefully get on the form I was before I got injured."

The Cottagers midfielder also feels that Thursday's result is a sign that Fulham are moving in the right direction.

"There is a lot of heart and character in this team," he added.

"After conceding early I think everybody counted us out but we worked hard and created chances which we were able to put away.

"You always have to try to better yourself. We're getting stronger and stronger and hopefully we can push on further in the competition."

When asked if Fulham could win the Europa League, Dempsey replied: "You never know, why not? If you work hard and you believe there is always a chance. And I believe."

Juventus manager Alberto Zaccheroni felt Cannavaro's red card turned the game.

"We are disappointed with the result," Zaccheroni said. "We feared Fulham and they played well but as soon as we went down to 10 men we struggled.

"I have seen the replay of the incident and I think the referee was too strict."



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see also
Fulham 4-1 Juventus (agg 5-4)
18 Mar 10 |  Europe
We can still beat Juve - Hodgson
12 Mar 10 |  Fulham
Zamora delighted to beat Juventus
18 Mar 10 |  Fulham
Juventus 3-1 Fulham
11 Mar 10 |  Europe


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