Fulham 4 Wisla Krakow 1
Andrew Johnson scored two fine goals as Fulham edged towards the knockout phase of the Europa League with a resounding victory at Craven Cottage.
The result cemented their position in second place behind Group K leaders FC Twente and means a win against the Dutch club in four weeks’ time would seal a place in the next stage of the competition.
Johnson crossed for Damien Duff to put the Whites ahead before Wisla Krakow equalised when Andraz Kirm’s ninth-minute effort deflected in off John Arne Riise.
But Martin Jol’s side regained the lead when Johnson met Danny Murphy’s right-wing cross with a sublime volley that hit the top corner of the net after clipping the woodwork.
And Johnson finished off a cleverly-worked free-kick routine early in the second half, before substitute Steve Sidwell bundled in the fourth after his initial header was saved.
Following Wisla’s controversial 1-0 win when these teams recently met in Poland, a heated return match was always likely.
Gervasio Nunez might have expected a hostile reception given the over-reaction to a shove from Moussa Dembele which got the Fulham man sent off in that game.
But it was the away supporters who created a red-hot atmosphere, turning out in their thousands and producing a wall of noise.
There were Polish fans celebrating wildly on three sides of the ground when their team equalised fortuitously only four minutes after Johnson exchanged passes with Bobby Zamora and set up Duff for the opener.
David Biton’s run caused panic in the Fulham defence, giving Lukasz Gargula time and space to tee up Kirm, whose shot ended up in the net after hitting Riise.
Johnson thought he had restored Fulham’s advantage when he netted from close range only to be denied by an offside flag.
But there was no room for doubt when Johnson scored with an absolute peach of a strike, and another moment of sheer class – this time from Clint Dempsey – almost sent Fulham in at the interval 3-1 up.
After collecting Dickson Etutu’s pass, Dempsey jinked his way past past three challenges and tried his luck with a deft chip that bounced off the top of the bar.
The third goal did eventually follow – and it was another beauty.
From a free-kick just outside the penalty area, Murphy fooled the Wisla defence by simply steering the ball into Zamora, who laid off to Johnson and the in-form forward did the rest, dinking over Sergei Pareiko as the keeper dived at his feet.
It was Johnson’s fifth goal in four European matches and knocked the stuffing out of Wisla, although they did go close to pulling one back.
Gargula’s free-kick was saved by keeper Mark Schwarzer and Tsvetan Genkov headed over as the Poles attempted to respond.
If they had any realistic chance of a comeback, it was extinguished when Pareiko tipped Sidwell’s header from Duff’s cross onto the bar only for the midfielder to pounce on the rebound and score Fulham’s fourth.
Wisla, to their credit, still did not give up the fight and were denied a late consolation when Kew Jaliens’ header struck the post.