The wheels started coming off Fulham's wagon early in the second half when substitute Erik Nevland was shown a straight red card from referee Kevin Blom for a tackle on Daniele De Rossi. While it was a foul on Nevland, it was definitely not worthy of a red card. Unfortnately, it would not be the last Fulham would hear about Blom as he made his presence felt later in the match.
After the Cottagers were reduced to ten-men, it was all Roma the rest of the way. Fulham was brave to hold off the Romans for as long as they did, but eventually, Roma was too strong and scored in the 69th through a John Arne Riise thunderbolt that deflected off of two Fulham players and into the net to even things up at 1-1.
Things went from bad to worse in the 76th minute when Stefano Okaka headed a Rodrigo Toddei cross past Mark Schwarzer to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
The Cottagers had very few chances to score in the second half and Roma seemed to have completed control playing with the extra man.
If playing down one man was hard, the Cottagers found out in stoppage time that playing two down was even more difficult as Blom sent off Konchesky for a foul. Once again, it was a foul on Konchesky, but not a red card offense as Blom thought it to be.
All in all, it was a tale of two halves for Fulham. Had Blom not gotten red card happy in the second half, I feel Fulham could have possibly held onto their lead or at worst, come out with a draw and be in a good position in the group with two matches remaining.
As it stands, things do not look good for Fulham after Thursday's loss. Not only do they trail leaders Basle by four points after their comfortable 3-1 win over CSKA Sofia, but the Cottagers will be without Konchesky and Nevland for the next three European matches for their straight red cards unless they are overturned by UEFA after Fulham appeals.
Fulham returns home for their next match against CSKA Sofia in what is a must win if they have any hope of qualifying for the knockout stage.
It is really unfortunate that a referee like Kevin Blom had to whip out his red card the way he did on Thursday. Most neutral fans will agree that the red cards were unwarranted and that because of the cards, it was a different game after that. It bothers me to no end when officials sway a match because of carless decisions. Blom should be reprimanded by UEFA.
What did you think about the match? Am I correct in my assessment that the Nevland red card in the 49th minute was the turning point in the match? Were the red cards warranted? I would love to read what you have to say.