Football: A brilliant Giorgos Karagounis strike spared Fulham’s blushes against Championship side Blackpool in the third round of the Cup.
Blackpool boss Michael Appleton got his tactics spot on as he set up his side to soak up Fulham’s attacks, deprive home talisman Dimitar Berbatov of the ball and then break quickly, utilising the pace of wingers Nathan Delfouneso and Thomas Ince.
Fulham dominated possession in the first half, creating several good situations, but it was the visitors who came closest to breaking the deadlock, with Ince forcing a fine save from keeper David Stockdale when put through.
Ince was the subject of a bid from Liverpool two weeks ago, but Appleton’s decision to play him in the Cup reinforces the view that Blackpool are in no hurry to sell. Appleton said: “No manager wants to sell their best players. I want to add four or five to the side before the end of the transfer window.”
The game lacked bite until Ludovic Sylvestre broke the deadlock on the hour mark.
Fulham were guilty of pushing too many forward and Delfouneso was allowed to exploit the space on the left wing.
He held the ball up superbly before laying it square for Sylvestre to place into the bottom corner with the outside of his right foot. Blackpool then tried to create a tangerine wall. Fulham threw everything forward and it took a moment of magic from Karagounis for Fulham to equalise.
Following a Bryan Ruiz corner, the ball was cleared to the right hand edge of the corner. Karagounis’s decision to shoot seemed rash until the ball went straight into the top corner.
The Cottagers should have then wrapped up the game. Ruiz hit the bar with a header and substitute Hugo Rodallega missed a another chance in the dying seconds.
Home boss Martin Jol said: “I played my best team as a signal to the players and crowd that I am taking the competition seriously. And, if you can’t score goals with your chances, you have to accept the replay.”