Brede Hangeland had more reason to celebrate on Thursday night than most. The giant Norwegian made his 100th appearance for Fulham, who made an amazing comeback to beat Juventus 4-1 (5-4 aggregate), and knock the Italian giants out of the Europa League.
By Glenn Dowd
The pride of the former Valerenga man was visible for all to see after the emphatic victory sent the Cottagers through to the Europa League Quarter Finals “I didn’t know that was my 100th appearance, it was a great way to celebrate it, the perfect way” beamed Hangeland after the match.
“To reach the Quarter-Final of a European competition is a dream come true for me – we’ve come really far and no one can take this away from us no matter what happens. It’s great to be a Fulham player.
“It’s probably the best feeling I’ve had as a Fulham player together with the final day of the 2007/08 season at Fratton Park – it was unbelievable and one for the record books.
Hangeland couldnt hide his delight after the magnificent achievement,“It seems like a long time ago but it’s just over two years since I joined and to think how far we’ve come to be able to beat a top European side 4-1 at the Cottage – it’s something we’re all really proud to be part of.”
Fulham suffered an early setback as a David Trezeguet goal seemingly put an end to their European aspirations. However they came back strong with Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera finding the back of the net to send Roy Hodgson`s side into the interval 2-1 up and a man to the good after Fabio Cannavaro was dismissed for hauling down Gera.
The Norwegian international was quick to praise the hunger of his team mates “I felt that even when it was 11 against 11 we dominated them,” said Hangeland. “When we went 2-1 up I knew it was possible. The way we managed to do it in the end – it couldn’t have gone any better.
“Roy told us at half time to keep playing and don’t rush it because if we rushed forward like headless chickens they could nick one back and it would have been more or less over. It was important for us to keep playing the same way and we managed to do that“.
Gera scored his second of the night from the penalty spot to level matters before American Clint Dempsey executed a sublime chip in the 82nd minute to secure a famous win. Jonathon Zebina was also sent off in the dying moments to further add to Juve`s woes.
“It’s hard playing like that for 90 minutes but I thought we did really well. Because of the way we played we got really tight to them up front and in midfield so they didn’t manage to get behind us which made it a lot easier defensively.
“We worked extremely hard and got our reward in the end and it’s unbelievable to be part of. I think everyone was really tired at the end but when you see the other 10 guys working their socks off you just want to do the same.
“The crowd really got behind us. I thought the atmosphere was first class and for everyone associated with Fulham it was a great night.”
Fulham`s path to Europa League glory is now mapped out after this morning`s draw in Nyon, Switzerland. The Cottagers will tackle German side Wolfsburg in the quarter finals, hosting the first leg at Craven Cottage on April 1st. The return leg will be one week later and should Fulham advance, then the winners of the Hamburg and Standard Liege tie stand between them and a place in the Europa League Final.
Glenn Dowd is a freelance journalist based in Dublin, Ireland. He currently writes for Nordic Football News and decided to share this article with the readers of IceNews.