Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Europa League: Dempsey’s double gives Jol revenge on Ramos

Fulham 3 Dnipro 0: Clint Dempsey's brace helped Fulham secure a comfortable Europa League play-off victory over Dnipro ahead of next week's return leg in Ukraine.



The United States international followed up his first half effort with a header shortly after the restart to help Martin Jol's side to an impressive victory against Juande Ramos' side.

The Spaniard replaced Jol as Tottenham manager four years ago but the Dutchman managed to exact some revenge at Craven Cottage.

While Dnipro looked a sturdy outfit in the first period, Aaron Hughes' sucker punch as half-time approached was the first of three goals they conceded in 10 minutes.

Dempsey struck either side of the break to extend Fulham's advantage, while resolute defending meant the visitors were unable to find an elusive away goal.

Heading into the match, Jol made four changes to the side held to a 0-0 home draw by Aston Villa in Saturday's Barclays Premier League opener.

Matthew Briggs, Steve Sidwell and Stephen Kelly were drafted into the starting line-up, while summer signing Pajtim Kasami was handed his first start for the Cottagers.

Dnipro, meanwhile, started former Blackburn striker Nikola Kalinic and goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka, who had a loan spell at Craven Cottage in the 2006-07 season.

The Czech keeper was first into action when the onrushing Briggs latched onto an exquisite ball from Brede Hangeland to unleash a near-post drive.

But Dnipro were proving a stern test for the home side, who were struggling to break down their resilient defence from both set-pieces and open play.

But, in the 39th minute, Giuliano's untimely slip allowed Briggs to dart to the byline and send in a low cross that Hughes nudged home.

Fulham doubled their advantage four minutes later as Dempsey ghosted into the box to slot home Sidwell's right-wing cross.

The west Londoners started the second half in the same form as they ended the first, with Dempsey heading home Kasami's dinked cross four minutes after the restart.

Bobby Zamora should have made it 4-0 in in the 74th minute but the England international somehow turned his shot over the bar from six yards out and Dempsey almost netted his hat-trick goal with minutes remaining but more pertinently Fulham's defence remained resolute.

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