Dempsey on the verge of history

[EUROPA LEAGUE] English club Fulham advanced to the final of the Europa League against Atletico Madrid thanks to a 2-1 win over Hamburg on Thursday that gave it an aggregate victory by the same score. Clint Dempsey, who played the last 31 minutes of the second leg at Craven Cottage, will become the first American-bred player to compete in a major European final if he plays in the May 12 game at Hamburg's Nordbank Arena.

Fulham looked to be trouble when Mladen Petric put Hamburg ahead with a superb free kick from 30 yards in the first half. The meant that Fulham needed to score twice to win.

Danny Murphy found Simon Davies for a brilliant equalizer in the 69th minute, and Hungarian Zoltan Gera put Fulham ahead six minutes later.

Fulham was on the verge of relegation two and a half years ago when Roy Hodgson took over as manager and it finished seventh last season to qualify for the Europa League, the former UEFA Cup.

Its Europa League campaign began in July.

"The time at Fulham has been quite magical for me," Hodgson said. "I think we've made a major piece of history here tonight. That atmosphere is something I think we'll all remember for a long time. Tonight is a reward for the fans who have supported us so well over the last two years and it's certainly for all those really faithful Fulham fans who have seen some bad times through the years."

In the other semifinal, Uruguayan Diego Forlan's overtime goal was the difference for Atletico against Liverpool.

Liverpool won the game, 2-1, to even the series at 2-2 but lost on the away goal Atletico scored at Anfield.

April 29 in London
Fulham 2 Hamburg 1. Goals: Davies 69, Gera 75; Petric 20.
Fulham -- Schwarzer, Pantsil (Nevland, 75), Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky; Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Davies; Gera; Zamora (Dempsey, 57).
Hamburg -- Rost, Demel, Boateng, Mathijsen, Aogo; Tesche (Rincon, 56; Guerrero, 79), Jarolim (Rozehnal, 90), Ze Roberto, Pitroipa; Petric, Van Nistelrooy.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).

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