Belfast Telegraph

Juventus treble hard to take for Hodgson

Juventus 3 Fulham 1

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson admitted that Juventus' third goal was a “bitter pill to swallow” after the Italian side took what looks like a decisive lead in their Europa League last-16 clash.

The Cottagers went 2-0 down within 30 minutes thanks to goals from defenders Nicola Legrottaglie and Jonathan Zebina before Dickson Etuhu pulled one back.

However, Hodgson's men always looked second best and David Trezeguet's sharp third goal emphasised the gulf in class between the two sides.

Hodgson insists his team remains very much in the tie ahead of the second leg in London, but acknowledges that the third goal has left them with a mountain to climb.

“I thought they were very effective, not least from scoring two goals from corners,” said Hodgson.

“The real disappointment from our point of view is that having got back into the game at 2-1 and seemingly not being particularly troubled we gave away a very foolish goal.

“That meant it's an uphill battle, but I thought the players did extremely well in the second-half because at 3-1 it's dangerous.

“We needed a second goal, but we needed not to concede another so it was a good performance in the second-half. We're not out of the tie yet and at 2-1 we might have even been congratulating ourselves because we gave a decent performance, but certainly we did enough in the game to show we're not out of the tie and we certainly weren't disgraced in any way here.

“The bitter pill to swallow and the bitter pill we're going to be carrying for the next week is that third goal, which I thought was very unnecessary.

“We had possession of the ball in their half and there was one minute left to half-time and I think we should have come in at 2-1 and would have been quite happy.”

Legrottaglie opened the scoring when he found his way through a packed penalty box to power a close range header past Mark Schwarzer from a corner after the Fulham goalkeeper had made a fine save from Trezeguet.

Zebina made it 2-0 when he beat two Fulham players, cut in off the right and fired an 18-yard shot past Schwarzer and off the post into the net. Fulham top scorer Bobby Zamora looked frustrated and isolated up front, but he won the free-kick that put the Cottagers momentarily back in the tie.

Davies whipped in a free-kick from the edge of the box after a foul on Zamora, the ball fell to Etuhu who slotted the ball past Alex Manninger via a deflection.

Schwarzer then had to pull off a fantastic one-handed save, but Juve went 3-1 ahead when Trezeguet fired past the Fulham stopper on the stroke of half-time after his original shot smacked against the woodwork.

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