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FULHAM will play west London rivals Brentford in the play-off final at Wembley next Tuesday. That was despite the remarkable efforts of Cardiff City to overturn a two-goal deficit and pull off an unlikely comeback at Craven Cottage in a pulsating second leg.
Not many people gave Cardiff City a chance going into the game. They had been soundly beaten by Fulham on their own patch and manager Neil Harris had lost all six games where he has managed sides playing the Londoners. But Cardiff were fired up.
Cardiff opened the scoring on eight minutes through Curtis Nelson from a set-play.
But Fulham responded like quicksilver, Neeskens Kebano levelling 24 seconds later after a smart move.
The Fulham goal seemed to settle the home side’s nerves and they were comfortable for the rest of the first half.
The second half was a Cardiff barrage, starting with a goal from substitute Lee Tomlin.
Fulham goalkeeper Marek Rodak made a series of fine saves to keep Fulham ahead.
It was a pulsating affair and one that left Cardiff manager Neil Harris stating: “I couldn’t be prouder.”
And looking forward to next season, having taken the side from 14th in the league when he was appointed in November to the verge of the play-off final, he said: “Our fan base should be proud of how far we come. Let’s use that pride.”
Fulham manager Scott Parker cut a relieved figure as he said: “Overall we have got ourselves to the final and that is an incredible achievement.
“The performance was tough. Cardiff were a wounded animal and had nothing to lose.”
But soon he was looking forward to next Tuesday’s play off-final against a Brentford side who have defeated his charges twice this season.
“It’s a coin toss. We are playing a good side and it’s a final, so form goes out of the window.”
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