Clint Dempsey was back in goalscoring form as Fulham put one foot in the Europa League group stage on Thursday night. The Cottagers recorded a 3-0 victory over Ukrainian outfit Dnipro at Craven Cottage in the play-off first leg with many thanks to Dempsey's brace which came either side of half-time.
The USA star found space in the area to tuck home Steve Sidwell's 43rd minute cross from the right to make it 2-0 after Aaron Hughes' goal five minutes earlier before essentially wrapping up proceedings early in the second half with a simple header from Pajtim Kasami's flighted cross.
After the match, Dempsey highlighted the importance of starting strongly whilst eyeing another good run in Europe's second tier competition following the runners-up performance in the 2009/10 version.
"It was important to get off to a good start and get some goals tonight," Dempsey told the club's official website. "We were able to do that and we've put ourselves in a good position ahead of next week's return leg in the Ukraine.
"They're [FC Dnipro] a good team and they pass the ball well. They were tough to break down and we got a bit frustrated in the first-half but in the end we've put ourselves in good position. The key tonight was not to concede and we've kept a clean sheet.
"We've got to be smart next week in the Ukraine and put in a professional performance and get the job done. We want to do well in this competition and hopefully we can."
The Southwest Londoners will now travel to Ukraine next week for the return leg at Dnipro Arena on Thursday, August 25.