A frustrated Fulham will be disappointed to only draw a well-contested match in west London this evening. The two favourites to qualify from Group K in the Europa League faced off in the first round of fixtures with both goals scored in the first half.
Twente began the match well and settled the quicker of the two sides, keeping possession well and stifling Fulham’s openings. The tall Brazilian, Douglas, had a particularly good game at the heart of Twente’s defence. The composed centreback was impressive both in possession and breaking from defence further up the field.
However, with less than 20 minutes on the clock, Andy Johnson was alert to intercept a poor cross-field ball from Tiendalli before beating Wisgerhof and chipping the grounded Mihaylov with the outside of his foot from inside the box. The fullback’s misplaced pass was inexcusable but Johnson’s opportunism must be commended.
After the goal, the game settled into a much more even event, with Twente having more of the ball. Martin Jol had clearly told his side to not press until the opposition entered into their own half - which worked well - but Twente did threaten on the break.
Five minutes from half time, Twente grabbed an equaliser. Pacey winger, Rosales, broke down the right before putting in a great ball for Luuk de Jong to connect from the edge of the six-yard box. The young Dutchman gave Mark Schwarzer little chance as he headed into the bottom corner. The ball then rebounded off the post and back on to the unfortunate Schwarzer before crossing the line to equalise.
The tempo of the match dropped off in the second half, but both Clint Dempsey and especially Moussa Dembele impressed for the Cottagers. Fulham had the best chance to take the lead when after a possible contentious penalty, the ball dropped to the feet of Andy Johnson who shot at Mihaylov’s feet and cleared well.
With half an hour to go, Martin Jol brought on Bobby Zamora to the delight of the Craven Cottage faithful, but the Targetman had little luck in front of goal. Matthew Briggs also impressed down the left hand side, as Fulham looked to spread the width to take advantage of Twente’s narrow 4-3-3.
Neither side were able to taken their chances in front of goal in the second half, and a draw was a fair result for both sides as they kicked off their Europa League campaign. Fulham have now extended their impressive record of 21 games unbeaten at home in Europe and although both sides rested a number of key players, both sides will be expected to qualify from Group K.