A smug Fulham fan is rare sight but last night Hammersmith was bursting at the seams with them.
After being taught a lesson in European football by Juventus in Turin last week, few gave Fulham a sniff of overcoming the 3-1 deficit as they welcomed The Old Lady to The Cottage for the return leg.
Roy Hodgson spoke out in the week, declaring his team were still in the tie, but after just two minutes of last night’s match it seemed as though David Trezeguet had ended all hope for the West London side as he struck to put the Italians 4-1 up on aggregate. The UEFA Europa League match betting odds suggested things were over and done with.
But then something strange happened. Fulham rose up like a phoenix from the ashes and proceeded to attack and destroy Italy’s most successful side.
Firstly, Bobby Zamora did his World Cup claims no harm, after shrugging off a former World Cup winning captain in Fabio Cannavaro, and finishing with what is becoming typically clinical fashion.
After being beaten from pillar to post by the majority of the media, the majority of away fans and, earlier this season, even some of the Fulham faithful, Zamora is in the form of his life and might have to cancel his planned holiday to Las Vegas in June, instead hopping on a South African bound plane instead.
Fabio Cannavaro’s evening ended prematurely when he brought down Zolten Gera and having seen red, the 36-year-old Cannavaro may be sent out to pasture come the end of the season. He has certainly looked a shadow of his former self this term, although as is the trend with Italian centre backs he may play on till 46.
After Fulham hit the woodwork twice the Hungarian Gera nicked another goal back when he scored just before half-time. The former West Brom player then sent the home fans wild by levelling the tie with a penalty before Clint Dempsey - for my money the best Texas export since ZZ Top - delicately placed the cherry on top of this European cake with a sublime finish straight from the top shelf.
With a final score on the night of 4-1, Fulham have somehow pulled off one of the most surprising comebacks in recent history, and Roy Hodgson has almost certainly secured himself a place in Fulham’s history. He has raised his profile to an almost god-like status among the Craven Cottage faithful.
Fulham will now face Wolfsburg in the next round of the competition and the online betting makes them joint fifth favourites to win the trophy.