Burton Albion bowed out of the Capital One Cup with a dramatic penalty shootout defeat to Fulham at the Pirelli Stadium.
The hosts had recovered from being 1-0 down to lead in extra time only for a late Hugo Rodallega strike and the ensuing penalties to deny the Brewers.
The game began quietly with both sides looking to grow into the game but it was the visitors’ who did the majority of the pressing in the early stages.
It was Fulham who were credited with the first chance of the match on 12 minutes when England international Darren Bent crossed low from the right for Bryan Ruiz; however the forward failed to connect fully enabling to Dean Lyness to save comfortably in the Albion goal.
The Brewers continued to look well organised against a strong Fulham side and their first chance came on 18; Rene Howe beating his man and shooting goalwards only for the striker’s effort to fall narrowly wide of David Stockdale’s left-hand post.
The visitors continued to press forward without creating too much by way of clear-cut chances; however the talented Adel Taarabt was looking increasingly comfortable on the ball despite an apparent knock.
It was the skilful Moroccan who broke the deadlock in superb fashion on 36, the former Tottenham man receiving the ball on the left before cutting inside and leaving Phil Edwards before firing an unstoppable effort across Lyness and into the far left corner.
The Brewers responded well to the setback, Howe bullying the visitors’ defence and going close with an effort just over the bar on 40, however at the break it was Fulham with the lead courtesy of Taarabt’s effort.
The second half began with Fulham looking fairly comfortable and it was they who could have and perhaps should have extended their lead on 58 when Bryan Ruiz rounded the keeper before shooting goalwards; only for Marcus Holness to make a last-ditch interception.
Two minutes later and the Brewers made a double substitution with Adam Reed and Jimmy Phillips replacing Robbie Weir and Lee Bell respectively.
Moments later and the visitors went close again, a mistake from Ian Sharps letting in Darren Bent but his effort was equalled by Lyness in the Brewers goal.
On 77 and with the Brewers still very much in the contest Albion made their third and final substitution as Michael Symes replaced Howe; who had put in a decent shift for the hosts.
Then on 85 came the equaliser. Hussey, who had worked tirelessly all evening, delivering the perfect ball in from the left and finding Jack Dyer who buried his first-time effort on the back post.
The decibels at the Pirelli went up another notch on 89 when Michael Symes looked to have won it at the death; only for his effort to be disallowed for handball with few complaints from the home side as the match moved into extra time.
Buoyed by the equaliser, it was Albion who started the stronger with Gary Rowett’s men going close on 92; good work from Symes finding McCrory who saw his effort deflected into the hands of Stockdale.
Moments later and it was Fulham’s turn to go close, a wide ball from the right finding Bent who drilled his effort towards goal from close range only to be denied by Lyness.
The Burton keeper was called into action again on 96 as Patjim Kasami’s powerful effort required a tip over the bar before Sascha Riether came even close with his effort coming back off the inside of the post as the visitors started to gain momentum.
Then, on 101 minutes, the Brewers led for the first time in the game and it was Hussey once again with an exquisite ball from the left and it was Symes who rose at the back post to guide his header past Stockdale to give the hosts a 2-1 lead at half-time in extra time.
The Brewers soaked up the late pressure well in the closing stages but there were warning signs when former Liverpool full-back John Arne Riise’s deflected cross brought the best out of Lyness and with the two minutes to go Fulham were back in the game.
With hesitation in the Brewers ranks following a goalmouth scramble it was ex Wigan man Hugo Rodallega who profited; hammering home an unstoppable effort from 10 yards to take what had been a hugely entertaining match to penalties.
Despite clinical finishes from Symes, Reed, McCrory and Hussey it was the Premiership side who progressed with five straight penalties with Riise hammering home the decisive penalty; Jack Dyer the unlucky player to miss for the Brewers in a game that nevertheless saw the hosts come out of the Capital One Cup clash with plenty of credit.
Full-time: 2-2 (Fulham win 5-4 on penalties)
Brewers: Lyness, Edwards, Hussey, Sharps, Bell (Phillips 60 mins), Weir (Reed 60 mins), Howe (Symes 77 mins), McCrory, Holness, Dyer, Palmer
Subs not used: Morch, Knowles, Slade, Harness