Fulham were out of the relegation zone with 15 minutes to go of their crunch home game with Hull City on Saturday.
Then it all went horribly wrong.
2-0 up and cruising, the Cottagers imploded after conceding two sloppy goals to hand Hull a point and put a serious dent in their hopes of staying in the Premier League.
(MORE: Fulham 2-2 Hull City – Cottagers let two-goal lead slip)
First Sasha Reither saw the ball ricochet up and over his head after a challenge to stop a Hull tackle, the ball then cannoned off the bar and fell straight to Nikica Jealvic who nodded home to make it 2-1. Then with three minutes to go Fulham switched off and allowed Shane Long to nod home at the back post and make it 2-2.
When all is said and done at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, manager Felix Magath and Fulham may look back to the two points they threw away away against Hull City as the crucial factor in the Cottagers season.
“We are very disappointed because we have played very well and were leading 2-0,” Magath said. “Then unfortunately we made a goal for them and we got pressured. It was only a point. Today we had to get three points and we only got one, so we are disappointed. At the moment, we lost two points and that is bad. We have to go on and we have a chance to take six points from the next two games.”
Fulham’s two remaining games are more favorable than the teams around them, so they still have hope of retaining their PL status. They travel Stoke City next weekend before hosting London rivals Crystal Palace on the final day of the season.
The home fans would’ve hoped their side would be out of the drop zone by the time those matches roll around, but now Fulham are still one point from safety and have it all to do to stay in the top-flight.
Can Magath’s men bounce back from a draw that will likely feel like a loss?
Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.
The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.
The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.
Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.
Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.
As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.
However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.
“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”
Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”
It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.