Daily Mail

Palhinha’s pearler has Fulham flying

Marco eyes silverware after 30-yard stunner

- by ADRIAN KAJUMBA at Craven Cottage

AS HE watched a string of simpler chances come and go, new Leeds manager Javi Gracia must have cursed at the two spectacula­r goals that sent Fulham into the quarter-finals.

The first was outstandin­g, classily converted from 30 yards by Joao Palhinha, his parting gift before a two-game ban for 10 yellow cards brushing the post on its way in.

The second was from closer but no less eye- catching. Manor Solomon, scorer off the bench in three straight appearance­s, showing he can do it as a starter too, with a curling effort of his own.

Fulham’s long-range finishing was in sharp contrast to that produced by Leeds from much nearer to goal. They now have just their relegation battle to focus on while Fulham, flying high in sixth in the Premier League, can look forward to the FA Cup last eight for the first time since 2010.

Leeds thought they had taken a step towards a first quarter-final since 2003 when Georginio Rutter tapped in after Weston McKennie’s header was saved.

But Chris Kavanagh spotted a foul by McKennie and ruled out what would have been the Frenchman’s first Leeds goal since his club- record £36million January move.

It was a generous decision in Fulham’s favour, to say the least. The stunned look on the celebratin­g Rutter’s face said it all.

To further frustrate Leeds, Kavanagh then allowed a few equally soft challenges to go unpunished and it was Fulham who went ahead thanks to a spectacula­r goal from Palhinha.

Tyler Adams paid the ultimate price when his pass across his own half was sharply pinched by Palhinha, whose next touch was a sensationa­l effort from 30 yards that he curled around Illan Meslier and in off the post.

Marc Roca replied with a long-range shot for Leeds but Marek Rodak was equal to it before Willy Gnonto also had a goal chalked off, this time correctly for offside.

The officials had another incident to look at when Robin Koch appeared to prevent Aleksandar Mitrovic from reaching a cross illegally but saw no offence.

The half ended with Leeds on top and the luckless Rutter cleverly directing a header goalwards which came back out off the post.

The visitors’ luck was out again after the break when Gnonto and then Rutter were repelled again by Rodak before the latter also curled over the crossbar.

So imagine Leeds’ frustratio­n when Solomon showed them how it is done.

He kept the danger alive after a cross was half-cleared, drove inside, traded passes with Mitrovic and replicated Palhinha by whipping the ball around the diving but helpless Meslier.

Meanwhile, the frustratin­g pattern continued for Leeds at the other end with Jack Harrison, Brenden Aaronson, McKennie and Koch all going close but not close enough.

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