Odense BK 0-2 Fulham

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Fulham's Andy Johnson
Johnson scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season

Andy Johnson scored twice to give Fulham their first Europa League group stage win over Odense.

In a lively opening Fulham's Pajtim Kasami and Odense striker Djiby Fall both had shots saved.

Fall also went close with a volley before Johnson cut in to smash under the hosts' goalkeeper on 36 minutes.

Odense pressed in the second period but Johnson made the win safe when he curled into the corner, while Kalilou Traore saw red in injury time.

The Mali midfielder was fortunate to stay on the pitch when he received a booking for an over-zealous tackle on Matthew Briggs.

But, once he appeared to two-foot tackle Damien Duff, there was no doubt he deserved a second yellow card and his marching orders.

Victory for Fulham was their first in nine games and Johnson's fifth and sixth goals of the season will boost his chances of more Premier League starts - on a night when they were without Bobby Zamora through illness.

Martin Jol's side were under pressure for long periods during the second half when Odense searched for an equaliser but, with Johnson hovering on the last defender's shoulder, there was always the threat of a breakaway goal.

In addition to Johnson's poacher's instinct, Fulham were thankful to Mark Schwarzer, who made several decent saves throughout the match.

Odense goalkeeper Stefan Wessels was also busy in the first period but the Australian was excellent in providing the last line of resistance as Fulham hung on to reach four points, just behind FC Twente at the top of Group K.

Johnson made an impression in an open start to the game, as his cross set up Pajtim Kasami for a close-range effort but Wessels was equal to it.

Clint Dempsey also had a header from a corner cleared off the line by Eric Djemba-Djemba and went close on two other occasions.

Djemba-Djemba was one of three former Premier League players in the hosts' line-up with former Wigan man Andreas Johansson looking dangerous down the right.

His cross set up Fall's volley, which was inches wide - and Schwarzer had to be at full stretch to palm the Senegal striker's earlier shot, when more power would have given Odense the lead.

In front of a lively crowd, the Danish side were enjoying the majority of the possession but Fulham were quick to break and it from Dempsey's persistence that they took the lead.

The American rode a couple of challenges and fed Johnson, who cut inside and fired a shot under Wessels, who otherwise had a decent half.

Having won their first Europa League group game, Odense committed further numbers forward in the second period, with the impressive Bashkim Kadrii drawing another good save from Schwarzer.

And the Fulham keeper was on hand to stop Peter Utaka at his near post.

Frustration grew around the Odense Stadium as the hosts searched for an equaliser, with Traore jumping in two-footed on Briggs.

The Cottagers were then given more breathing space two minutes from the end when Brede Hangeland's hopeful ball forward was not dealt with by the Odense defence and, with Johnson having time to compose himself, he finished with some style.

That only left Traore to receive his second yellow of the night and Johnson will now hope he retains his place for the west London derby against QPR on Sunday.

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