Crusaders 1-3 Fulham

Crusaders 1 - 3 Fulham

Matthew Briggs, right, celebrates his opener
Matthew Briggs, right, celebrates his opener at the Seaview Stadium

Fulham took control of their Europa League second qualifying round tie against Crusaders with a battling display in the first leg in Belfast.

The Cottagers fielded another strong line-up but were pushed all the way by the Northern Irish semi-professionals.

Fulham's Matthew Briggs made it 1-0 with a screamer, but Timmy Adamson's fine finish drew the hosts level.

The Crues could not hold on, though, and Bobby Zamora's header and a Danny Murphy penalty sealed the away win.

"We knew it could be tough," said Fulham boss Martin Jol. "They [Crusaders] play a very direct style, with two good, big strikers, and that's always difficult.

"But we came through it well. The only disappointing thing for me was the way we conceded the goal.

"Other than that, though, we did well in the first half and recovered nicely after their goal to win. It was nice to see the youngsters like Briggs and Kerim Frei come in and do well as well."

As the first top-flight English opposition to play at Seaview in a competitive European game since Liverpool back in 1976, Fulham were expected to enjoy an easy ride against Crusaders.

But any suggestions the IFA Premiership outfit would be over-run by their Premier League opponents proved unfounded in an entertaining contest.

The Londoners, without new signing John Arne Riise, were restricted to long-range efforts by the hard-working hosts.

One such long-ranger led to the breakthrough for the visitors, though, as Briggs lashed into the top corner from a half-clearance - not that the hosts capitulated thereafter.

In fact, the Crues surprised Fulham with a fine leveller eight minutes into the second half when summer signing Adamson controlled well inside the box before firing home in off the far post.

Fulham put paid to any hopes of a shock result, however, when Zamora rose to nod in a Damien Duff corner and Murphy converted from the spot after Andy Johnson's chip was handled in the box Paul Leeman.

Meanwhile, asked after the game whether he would be active in the transfer market this summer, Jol said: "We're busy."

On Robbie Keane specifically, he added: "Robbie's a great player, but we've got great strikers here. I'm a big fan of Robbie."

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