Zoltan Gera

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On This Day: Dempsey chip leads Fulham over Juventus in Europa League

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10 years ago today, one of the most incredible and memorable European upsets too place.

Clint Dempsey‘s absurd (and quite frankly, disrespectful) chip capped off one Fulham’s improbable comeback against Juventus in the Europa League Round of 16. Fulham would reach the final of the competition that season, falling to Atletico Madrid in extra-time on a Diego Forlan goal that would break the hearts of Whites fans everywhere.

It’s been all downhill since then for Fulham, but they remember the Juventus comeback fondly.

With the Whites falling 3-1 in the first let in Turin, legendary striker David Trezeguet pounced on a loose ball in the box just two minutes into the second leg at Craven Cottage, meaning Fulham was well on its way out of the competition. That’s when the improbable began.

Bobby Zamora chested a ball down and struck a few minutes later to bring Fulham within a shout, and then Zoltan Gera bracketed halftime with a pair, including the second three minutes after the break from the penalty spot that brought Fulham back level in the match. Then with the match deadlocked on aggregate at 4-4, each with one away goal, Dempsey’s audacious effort lit Craven Cottage alight with eight minutes to go. The goal was the perfect encapsulation of Dempsey’s career, outrageous for anyone to even consider in the circumstances let alone actually pull off.

Making the comeback even more improbable, Fulham’s stalwort captain Danny Murphy was suspended for the match after his late red card in the dying minutes of the second-leg draw against Shakhtar Donetsk the round earlier.

Fulham’s twitter account has been reliving the build-up to the match throughout the day, bringing fans quotes from the players on the day before the game.

Fulham would go on to eliminate German sides Wolfsburg and Hamburg before reaching the final, and while Simon Davies leveled the scoreline at 1-1 to cancel out Forlan’s opener, the Uruguayan bagged the winner in the 112th minute to end the improbable run. Still, Dempsey’s chip will go down as one of the great European moments, especially for an American on one of the biggest stages.

Hungary wins Group F, and Ronaldo drags Portugal through after thriller

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Cristiano Ronaldo almost single-handedly dragged Portugal into the knockout rounds with two goals and an assist as Hungary lost a trio of leads in a 3-3 draw that still handed them Group F at EURO 2016 on Wednesday.

Balazs Dzsudzsak scored a pair of deflected goals for Hungary, and Zoltan Gera also scored as they clinched a date with the runner up of Group E.

Nani scored Portugal’s only goal, his second of the tournament, and Portugal finished third in the group. Up next is Croatia, in a game which could be just as high scoring.

[ MORE: Ronaldo’s absurd back heel ]

LYON, FRANCE - JUNE 22: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group F match between Hungary and Portugal at Stade des Lumieres on June 22, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Gera hammered a low rope through the legs of a defender and into the bottom right corner as Hungary seized the lead in the 19th minute.

Free kicks came for Portugal from dangerous spots, but Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly did well to marshall the defense or make the stop like when he flew low and left to slap a hard, low Ronaldo offering away.

Nani equalized for Portugal just before halftime, as the ex-Mancheter United man got on the end of a through ball from fellow ex-Red Devil playmaker Ronaldo to beat Kiraly and make it 1-1.

[ USMNT: Gulati cares about third place game ]

Balazs Dzsudzsak put Hungary back in front with a deflected free kick in the 47th minute, but Ronaldo answered back with a gorgeous cheeky backheel to make it 2-2.

Dzsudzsak hit another deflected shot home within moments, but there was Ronaldo again. The Real Madrid star stroked home a solid finish to make it 3-3 with just under a half hour to play.

Hungary, Sporting KC striker Nemeth ready for Euro 2016 draw

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The last 50 years or so have dealt a tough hand to strikers from Hungary, the land of Ferenc Puskas and the Mighty Magyars.

Not only does any young Hungarian scorer have to compete with the fabled ghosts of the national team’s past, but there’s the task of making an impact on the international stage, something Hungary’s struggled with for nearly a half-century.

Enter Sporting KC striker Krisztian Nemeth and the new-look Hungarians, who’ve surged into Euro 2016 as FIFA’s No. 20 ranked team and are looking to make a statement on behalf of their people.

[ MORE: Hertha wants USMNT’s Brooks signed, or sold ]

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 11: Krisztian Nemeth of Hungary in action during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifing match between Holland and Hungary at Amsterdam Arena on October 11, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

“Everyone dreamed of this,” Nemeth told ProSoccerTalk. “It’s a very good result and people were waiting 44 years. That was the last time Hungary was in the European Cup. It’s everybody’s dream.”

Nemeth, 26, earned six of his 23 caps in 2015. He scored against Greece in qualifying, and went 90 minutes in the first leg of Hungary’s playoff against Norway. He then subbed into the second leg in the 75th minute, and was on the field at Groupama Arena as his side made history.

“An unbelievable feeling for sure,” Nemeth said. “We worked a lot for this result. It was a crazy celebration after with the crowd.”

Hungary’s strength lies in its lack of a focal point, Nemeth says. The attack can go through Hoffenheim striker Adam Szalai, Bursaspor mid Balazs Dzsudszak, former Fulham/West Brom man Zoltan Gera, Nemeth, or any number of players. Hungary can balance a rough outing by any player with 10 solid games from the other components

“As for the team, you cannot pick only one,” he said. That’s why we are so strong. Anyone can have a bad game and it is not a problem.”

It’s a facet of their team that has Hungary aiming for the knockout rounds, regardless of who they draw on Saturday. Although it would be excellent if they end up pitted against their rivals in Romania, who they twice drew during qualifying.

“Look, I don’t know who we are going to play against, so until the draw we are just going to enjoy this,” Nemeth said. “We want the best, and progressing from our group would be a good result.”

[ MORE: Mourinho not worried about sacking ]

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 30: Krizstian Nemeth #9 of Sporting Kansas City holds up the Lamar Hunt trophy after defeating the Philadelphia Union in the U.S. Open Cup Final on September 30, 2015 at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. Sporting Kansas City defeated the Philadelphia Union in penalty kicks. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The momentum would serve them well into 2018 World Cup qualifying, where Hungary has drawn Portugal, Switzerland, Faroe Islands, Latvia and Andorra — a tough task, to be sure.

Nemeth will have to balance this major European duty with his goals for Sporting KC, where he netted 10 times under coach Peter Vermes, a fellow Hungarian. Some of those goals were downright silky, and the veteran striker is eyeing more team goals in 2016.

“It was a really good year for me,” Nemeth said. “We won the U.S. Open Cup (right), but the MLS season was very disappointing because we had promise to make MLS Cup. We hope to get there next year.”

The Euro 2016 draw is slated for just after Noon ET Saturday in Paris.

Euro 2016 playoff preview: Sweden vs. Denmark headlines quartet of ties

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The final four Euro 2016 berths will be decided in the next week, as eight teams jockey for those coveted summer spots in France.

[ MORE: Cameron backs Klinsmann ahead of World Cup qualifiers ]

Let’s take a look at the quartet of ties headed our way this week and next.

Hungary vs. Norway – Thursday and Sunday

FIFA ranks: Hungary 33, Norway 46
History: Norway is 3-0. Most recent meeting Nov. 2012.

Scuttlebutt: This has a chance to be a thrilling two-legged tie, and MLS fans will be excited to see Sporting KC’s Krisztian Nemeth throw down for his country, a side that also has familiar named Zoltan Gera and Adam Bogdan. Norway’s well-rounded team is led in part by Borussia Monchengladbach defender Håvard Nordtveit and Celtic midfielder Stefan Johansen.

Bosnia & Herzegovina vs. Republic of Ireland – Friday and Monday

FIFA ranks: BNH 20, Ireland 42
History: Ireland won at home in 2012.

Scuttlebutt: The Irish will be without John O'Shea and Jonathan Walters for leg one in Zenica, but the weight of this tie is heavy on the favorites. BNH was tagged by many as the dark horses of the 2014 World Cup, only to finish third in its group. Now it could miss the next major tournament, and is missing Muhamed Besic for leg one.

Ukraine vs. Slovenia – Saturday and Tuesday

FIFA ranks: Ukraine 28, Slovenia 64
History: Met twice in 1999, with Slovenia 1W-1D.

Scuttlebutt: Ukraine is without suspended Oleksandr Kucher and Taras Stepanenko for leg one, which comes at home on Lviv. Slovenia is on the brink of missing a second-straight major tournament.

Sweden vs. Denmark – Saturday and Tuesday

FIFA ranks: Sweden 45, Denmark 35
History: Denmark 22W-5D-9L; Sweden’s last win: April 2000

Scuttlebutt: A juicy Scandinavian rivalry could see Zlatan Ibrahimovic miss a second-straight major tournament, and that certainly does not qualify as “Daring to Zlatan”. But a Danish absence would be a Euro without Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel, Daniel Agger (see above: he had a lot fewer tattoos in 2009) and… Nicklas “Lord” Bendtner.