Fulham head to Goodison Park this week for a Carabao Christmas cracker, as Everton host the Whites in the quarter-finals. George Rossiter looks back at what happened on the previous two occasions that Fulham made the last eight of this competition.
Liverpool 3-0 Fulham (AET), 13 December 2000
The end of the first year of the new Millenium is on the horizon and Jean Tigana’s side are absolutely bossing the then-First Division. It’s the absolute dream for those of us who don’t quite fight for trophies every year – the potential for promotion and a cup run in the same year. Fulham’s eventual captain in the 2010 Europa League final, Danny Murphy, lined up alongside Steven Gerrard in Liverpool’s midfield. Liverpool’s eventual Champions League winner in Istanbul, Steve Finnan, made a real impression on Fulham’s right-hand side. Quite unfairly, future Ballon D’Or winner Michael Owen ended up coming off the Liverpool bench.
Don’t let the scoreline deceive you, this was no standard thrashing by a Premiership side against a second tier side. Tigana’s men took the eventual treble winners (UEFA Cup, League Cup, and FA Cup) to extra time, but couldn’t quite keep up the same intensity they’d managed over 90 minutes into extra time. Lee Clark and Louis Saha had good chances in regular time, and Liverpool keeper Westerveld was forced into a couple of saves from powerful long-range efforts courtesy of Bjarne Goldbaek and the previously mentioned Finnan. Substitute Andrejs Solcers even nearly put Fulham ahead on the verge of half time of extra time, but once again Westerveld was at hand to stop that from happening.
Ultimately, Liverpool’s quality and world class depth was to shine through in the final 15 minutes of the 120. While Fulham replaced Fabrice Fernandes with Stolcers, Liverpool were bringing off Robbie Fowler for Michael Owen. It was Owen who broke the Fulham resolve just as the teams headed towards the final quarter of an hour of extra time, finishing from a Vladmir Smicer cross. It would be Smicer who would add a second not long after, before England international Nick Barmby completed the scoring in the final seconds.
Liverpool went onto beat Crystal Palace in the semi-final, who themselves had overcome Tranmere Rovers in a barnstorming 6-5 win in the last 16, before dispatching of Birmingham City in the final. Both teams would of course experience success by the season’s end, with Fulham winning the First Division title with a mind boggling 101 points. And it wouldn’t be too long before Fulham reached this stage of the League Cup once more…
Fulham 1-2 Chelsea, 30 November 2004.
Chris Coleman was playing at right-back in December 2000. Fast forward nearly four years and this time the Welshman found himself managing the Whites at this stage of the competition. This time, it was against local rivals Chelsea in a clash that was settled in 90 minutes. Wayne Bridge was on Chelsea’s left-hand side, and future Fulham manager Scott Parker played alongside some bloke called Claude Makelele.
Once again, the difference in squad depth was there for all to see. Fulham’s singular change involved Elvis Hammond coming on. Meanwhile, Chelsea called upon the minnows of Joe Cole, Eider Gudjohnsen and Frank Lampard. Even Alexey Smertin played for the Blues, making it five Chelsea players on the night who ended up with some sort of playing involvement at Craven Cottage. West London must be quite the place to live…
Anyway, to the game. Heartbreakingly in hindsight, it was Damien Duff who opened the scoring for Chelsea not long after the half time break. Fulham had started the brighter of the two teams in the first half, with notable chances for Mark Pembridge and Sylvain Legwinski, but a lack of killer instinct meant Chelsea survived the first 45 and took their chance not long after, with a Duff effort deflecting off Ian Pearce and past Van Der Sar following a beautiful piece of play from Dutch legend Arjen Robben.
With 15 minutes remaining, Fulham had a deserved equaliser. Elvis Hammond, only subbed on seconds before, took the ball from Steed Malbranque and laid it into the path of the clinical Brian McBride who beat Carlo Cudicini at his near post. Unfortunately, it was Chelsea who had the last laugh. Substitute Lampard’s 88th-minute effort bounced up onto the crossbar and across the line, silencing most of the 14,500 in attendance at the Cottage.
Just like Liverpool four years previously, Fulham lost to the eventual winners of the competition, with Chelsea going onto beat Liverpool themselves in the final 3-2 under serial winner Jose Mourinho. By this time, Coleman was really settling into his first managerial role and eventually led Fulham to a safe mid-table spot in that year’s Premier League, with the likes of cult heroes Papa Bouba Diop and Brian McBride in the side.
Hopefully it’s third time lucky (this century) at Goodison Park. Tigana and Coleman couldn’t make the final four; can you, Marco Silva?