Despite losing on the night, the Cottagers manage to safely secure their passage through to the group stages of a competition they thrived in two campaigns agoFulham have qualified for the group stages of the Europa League after a 3-1 on aggregate win, despite losing the second leg to Dnipro 1-0.
A Evgeny Shakhov header mid-way through the first half momentarily threatened to upset Martin Jol's sides progression, but they managed to get through thanks to a resilient defensive effort.
Despite his side heading into the game with a 3-0 lead, Jol named a strong line-up, picking Moussa Dembele to partner Andy Johnson upfront in the continued absence of Bobby Zamora.
Dnipro failed to take the game to their opponents early on and it was Fulham who created the first chance of the match, when Damien Duff’s forced a decent save out of Jan Lastuvka in the Ukrainian’s goal.
This finally brought a sense of urgency to former Sevilla boss Juande Ramos’ side, and they started to get forward more. Fulham’s left-back John Arne-Riise was forced off through injury to be replaced by the inexperienced Matthew Briggs.
The home side’s pressure paid off after 23-minutes when Shakhov headed past a helpless Mark Schwarzer from 12-yards out. Ramos sensed an unlikely comeback was on and begun to urge on his side from the touchline.
Dnipro continued to push for another goal and a Serhiy Kravchenko corner almost led to a chance before Fulham managed to scramble the ball away from danger.
Fulham managed to ease pressure after 37-minutes, firstly through an off-target Steve Sidwell shot, before Chris Baird forced Lastuvka into a making a save.
The former Fulham stopper was again forced into action three minutes later through a Clint Dempsey effort, but it was his opposite number who made the final save of the half in first-half stoppage time.
The Australian had to reacted smartly to tip over Yevgen Konoplianka’s effort, and maintain Fulham’s two-goal lead as the first-half drew to a close.
Dnipro begun the second half with a intent but failed to make their possession pay. Brede Hangeland marshaled his team-mates around and tried to bring a sense of calm to their backline.
Schwarzer was forced into making a couple of comfortable saves firstly from Ruslan Rotan, before being made to get down to make a steady save from Evgeni Konoplienka.
Jol made his second substitution of night, bringing on Pajtim Kasami to replace the ineffective Dembele. The new arrival had the perfect chance to finish off the tie but failed to finish off some great work from Duff, instead scooping over from six yards.
Schwarzer was forced into one last piece of action shortly before the end, having to move quickly to turn a firmly hit free-kick around the post.
Despite losing on the night last week’s home win meant that Fulham have secured their passage through to the Europa League group stages.