Friday 22 September 2017

Reds rumours mount as Roy rues bitter end to final

When Fulham started their Europa League journey in Lithuania last July, Roy Hodgson never imagined they would end up in the final, but that was little consolation after last night's heartbreaking extra-time defeat to Atletico Madrid.

Diego Forlan's second goal of the game shattered Hodgson's men three minutes from time, ending Fulham's hopes of a trophy on the biggest night in their history.

At some point in the summer, Hodgson will no doubt reflect on a job well done, but right now it is hard to see it.

"I couldn't in my wildest dreams imagine we would get here when we started," Hodgson admitted. "But unfortunately that doesn't help.

"Having been here and acquitted ourselves so well, you feel we could have taken a further step.

"It doesn't matter how much comfort I try to find, it is difficult to find joy or enthusiasm because a great performance has gone unrewarded."

Fulham responded to Forlan's first-half opener with a crisp volley from Simon Davies, but they had no answer to the Uruguayan's second effort, which left the Fulham supporters to debate their manager's future.

As Rafael Benitez continues to find himself on rocky ground at Liverpool, it is hardly surprising the former Switzerland coach has been linked with the Anfield hot-seat.

However, although he did not quite close the door on a potential departure, his words had a reassuring air.

"I have never given my future a moment's thought," Hodgson said. "I still have a contract here and, as far as I know, this is where I shall be."

Davies admitted he might appreciate the enormity of the team's achievements once defeat has sunk in, but it was too raw after the game.

He said: "Getting so close to penalties we were hanging on a little bit. It's a shame to get so close but once we get home we'll feel like we achieved something, but now it is very painful.

"Scoring in a big final I'll be very proud in years to come but now it is really hard. We were so close but we must congratulate Madrid."

After scoring an extra-time winner against Liverpool in the semi-final as well, Forlan has certainly had a lot of fun at England's expense in the competition. It marks a quite staggering change from his time at Manchester United, when he was written off as a total no-hoper.

"I don't know whether people in England are looking at me in a different way, but I am playing well and I am enjoying it," said Forlan, who will be part of the Uruguay squad at this summer's World Cup.

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