Wisla Kraków 1-0 Fulham - A night to forget in Poland for 10-man Fulham
Wisla Kraków 1
Dembele sent off 29, Chavez sent off 86
Stadion Miejski, Kraków
A farcical red card for striker Moussa Dembele marred Fulham’s Europa League defeat to Polish side Wisla Krakow. The Belgian was sent off just 29 minutes into the game following an off-the-ball incident with midfielder Gervasio Núñez. Dembele pushed the Argentinean on the shoulder after a mistimed kick but when Nunez went down clutching his face the referee went straight to his back pocket to produce the red card.
Manager Martin Jol made six changes from Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Stoke including just a second start for the club for 23-year-old Czech midfielder Marcel Gecov. Portuguese striker Orlando Sa was given the chance to partner the in-form Andy Johnson up front with Dembele settling for a more unfamiliar right midfield role.
The attack-minded Fulham line-up started with intent as Damien Duff tested the reflexes of goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko with a stinging shot. However they failed to build on this brisk start and Mark Schwarzer’s goal began to live a charmed life.
The lively Ivica Iliev, who was booked inside the opening two minutes for a clash with Brede Hangeland, struck the woodwork when his deflected drive looped onto the top of the bar via the leg of the Fulham defender. Iliev was proving incredibly elusive in a free-roaming role behind striker Dudu Biton and he was to threaten again when he danced inside from the left hand side to fire just wide of Schwarzer’s near post.
However the game’s main flashpoint came just minutes later when Dembele was given his marching orders. With the referee not catching a full view of the incident Nunez played the theatrical card and the referee was quick to produce the red card. The sending off forced a tactical shift for Fulham with Johnson dropping to right midfield to fill the gap left by Dembele, leaving Sa to play the lone forward role.
A generator failure at the stadium caused the second-half to be delayed by 10 minutes but this failed to halt the Polish champions’ charge as they looked to capitalise on their numerical advantage immediately.
Cezary Vilk fired a warning shot from 35 yards that the Cottagers didn’t heed and they were to fall behind just nine minutes later. Some careless passing between Duff and Gecov on the half-way line gifted possession to Biton who ran into the copious amount of space left by the mix-up to fire into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
Pajtim Kasani’s introduction for the injured Sa looked to maintain a fairly attacking outlook and although he offered some good footwork and probing attacking runs he failed to help conjure up a fight-back as the second-half petered out.
A second yellow for Osman Chavez with three minutes remaining briefly restored parity in terms of playing personnel but it came too late for Fulham to respond as they fell three points behind group leaders FC Twente.
The Cottagers would have been disappointed to never really test a defence that had shipped seven goals in their last two group games and will be looking to get back to winning ways in the reverse fixture in two weeks time.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Kelly, Briggs (Frei 88), Hangeland, Hughes; Gecov (Sidwell 75), Etuhu, Duff, Dembele; Orlando Sa (Kasami 58), Johnson
Wisla Kraków (4-2-3-1): Pareiko, Jaliens, Chavez, Lamey, Diaz; Nunez, Wilk; Kirm (Czekaj 90), Gargula (Brud 79), Illiev (Boguski 86); Biton
Did you know... This is Fulham’s 11th game in Europe already this season after kicking off their Europa League campaign at home to Faroe Islands side NSI Runavik on the 30th June.
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