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The west Londoners look in pole position to progress after hitting three goals against the Russians.

Fulham 3-1 Amkar Perm Lineups/Stats
Europa League Fixtures/Results

Fulham welcomed Amkar Perm to Craven Cottage with manager Roy Hodgson admitting before the game that he knew little about his team’s Russian opponents.

Yet the Whites boss opted to field an unchanged side for the Europa League clash meaning new signing Damien Duff had to settle for a place on the bench.

However, the home side took little time in getting into their groove and had grabbed the lead within minutes of kick off.

A quick break from an Amkar corner saw Bobby Zamora feed strike partner Andy Johnson and he finished confidently past goalkeeper Narubin to hand the Cottagers the perfect start.

Their lead established, Fulham coasted comfortably through the first half and could have added to their lead.

With half an hour on the clock Clint Dempsey forced Narubin to save and minutes later another break saw Zamora and Johnson combine well again, although this time the former Everton man couldn’t beat the Amkar stopper.

In contrast, Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal was enjoying a relatively quiet evening but the Australian international was called into action only seconds after half-time.

Some sloppy play by Paul Konchesky allowed Martin Kushev the opportunity to shoot and the Russian fired an effort on target that brought a smart save from Schwarzer.

The scare seemed to galvanise Fulham and moments later they had doubled their advantage.

Clint Dempsey then tried his luck from range. The American sent a marvelous right-footed effort into the top corner from all of 20 yards and past a helpless Narubin.


Goalscorers - Dempsey and AJ were on-target

Yet the visitors responded well to the second goal and began to exert some pressure on the side for the first time in the match.

A decent effort from Zahari Sirakov forced Schwarzer into a strong save before a header from Martin Kushev from close range flashed just wide.

However, the home side were still looking to add to they tally and a Johnson break almost brought rewards before he was upended by Dmitry Belorukov.

The Russian headed into the book for his tackle which also brought Johnson’s match to a premature end, the striker hobbling off to be replaced by Erik Nevland.

Still Amkar pressed, Vitali Grishin the next to go close with a fine strike from outside the box that flew fractionally wide of Schwarzer’s post.

Yet the Cottagers stood firm and with 15 minutes to go they finally earned themselves some breathing space.

Substitute Damien Duff was the man to cause the problems, slipping in Zamora only moments after replacing Zoltan Gera, and the striker made no mistake with a strong finish.

The home celebrations were short-lived, however, as within minutes the Russians had grabbed a precious away goal.

Another substitute, Vitali Grishin, was the man to get his name on the scoresheet with a fine strike from just inside the box that rocketed into the top corner.

It was the only disappointment on a good night for the Whites and they will head to Russia for the return leg confident of progressing in the tournament.

Gill Clark, Goal.com

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