PARIS, April 1, 2010 (AFP) - Fulham succeeded on Thursday where glamour sides Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all failed, by becoming the only English side to win a European tie this week.
Fulham, who knocked out mighty Juventus in the last round, saw off German champions Wolfsburg 2-1 in their Europa League quarter-final clash at Craven Cottage.
|Fulham's English striker Bobby Zamora scores a goal against Wolfsburg during their UEFA Europa League, quarter-final, in London, England, on April 1, 2010. AFP PHOTO|
In Lisbon, Liverpool surrended a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 to Benfica and they also ended the game with 10 men after Dutch winger Ryan Babbel was sent off in the first half.
In the night's other two first-leg ties, Atletico Madrid and Valencia drew 2-2 in an all-Spanish affair while Hamburg, who will host the final in May, edged Standard Liege 2-1.
Roy Hodgson's unfashionable Fulham, who had accounted for holders Shakhtar Donetsk as well as Juve en route to the last eight, were 2-0 ahead against Wolfsburg thanks to two goals in four second-half minutes from Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff.
But the German champions grabbed a last-minute lifeline with a crucial away goal when Alexander Madlung scored.
"I don't know if we would be favourites even at 2-0 but at 2-1 you definitely relinquish any chance of being called favourites because if they score and shut up shop they go through," said Hodgson.
"But they have to score and get a victory so if we get a goal we will have a good chance of going through ourselves.
Liverpool were ahead at Lisbon's Stadium of Light after just nine minutes when Danish defender Daniel Agger neatly backheeled the ball into the corner.
But the five-time European champions found themselves down to 10 men when Babbel was sent off for pushing Luisao, who had angered the Dutchman for a foul on Fernando Torres.
Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo levelled with a 59th-minute penalty after Pablo Aimar went down under Emiliano Insua's challenge.
Cardozo then added his eighth goal of the tournament in the 79th minute when another penalty was awarded after Jamie Carragher, playing his 621st match for Liverpool, handled the ball.
"We are really disappointed. We started really well, scored an early goal and we created some chances even with 10 men," said Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva.
"Now we have to keep going and try to go through in Anfield. The away goal always is important."
Atletico Madrid coach Quique Sanchez Flores returned to his former club Valencia and came away with a 2-2 draw.
Sanchez Flores spent most of his playing career at the Mestalla and was coach from 2005 until 2007.
His side twice took the lead on Thursday through Diego Forlan and Antonio Lopez but Valencia, who are third in the Spanish first division and chasing a Champions League spot, hit back through Manuel Fernandes and David Villa.
In Germany, Hamburg edged Standard Liege 2-1 after coming back from a goal down.
Dieudonne Mbokani found the target on 31 minutes before Mladen Petric levelled from the penalty spot nine minutes later.
Dutch forward Ruud van Nistelrooy grabbed the winner on the stroke of half-time for Hamburg who eliminated Standard's rivals Anderlecht in the previous round.
The German side have an extra incentive to progress in the tournament as the May 12 final is being held at their Hamburg Arena ground.