Fulham beaten in Europa League by late Forlan goal
10:49pm Wednesday 12th May 2010 in Fulham
Atletico Madrid 2 Fulham 1
Premier League flop Diego Forlan broke English hearts for the second time in two weeks in Hamburg on Wednesday night, nudging in a goal four minutes from the end of extra-time to seal a Europa League triumph for Atletico Madrid.
It was the second goal of the game for the Uruguayan, who famously underwhelmed in two seasons with Manchester United earlier this decade.
But, after Welshman Simon Davies levelled his 32nd-minute opener, Forlan's latter strike - coming after more tricky work from the game's most dangerous player, Sergio Aguero - proved decisive.
Forlan also netted an extra-time strike in the second leg of the Spaniards' semi-final against Liverpool to win through to this final.
After a long, long journey through Europe's farthest outposts that began way back in qualifying in July, Fulham's 19th match in the Europa League this season - and 63rd in all competitions - finally proved a bridge too far.
In truth, they lacked potency up front after Bobby Zamora had succumbed to his ongoing Achilles injury, limping off before the hour-mark.
Clint Dempsey offered more pace than the big striker - whose exploits in this competition may have seen him heading for South Africa this summer if not for his ailment - but neither the American nor Norwegian Erik Nevland, when he came on for Damien Duff, could hold on to the ball up front.
This meant Fulham's midfield and defence were under constant pressure from the bright Atletico frontline of Aguero and Forlan.
Atletico had bossed the first half and Forlan's opener was not unexpected, yet Davies's volleyed equaliser within five minutes was another illustration of Fulham's never-say-die attitude in Europe this campaign.
Roy Hodgson's men had the better of the second half but failed to deliver the killer blow and their fatigue began to show in extra time.
In the end, they appeared to be clinging on for penalties but, ultimately, they fell four minutes short.
"These are knockout games, they are decided by moments, ours was decided by the predatory instincts and the finishing powers of Diego Forlan," a disappointed manager Hodgson said afterwards.
"I thought we kept Forlan and Aguero pretty quiet, considering how good these two players are but we didn't keep them quiet quite long enough.
"Of course you can't be happy after any sort of defeat, even if it comes in extra-time, but I don't have a word of criticism for the team.
"I thought the fans were magnificent as usual, and I think our fans realise we've done the best possible job we could do."
Fulham: Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Duff (Nevland 84), Etuhu, Murphy (Greening 118), Davies, Gera, Zamora (Dempsey 55). Subs: Zuberbuhler, Pantsil, Riise, Dikgacoi