LONDON - Unheralded English side Fulham enjoyed their greatest ever victory when they came from behind to beat stunned Italian giants Juventus 4-1 and reach the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday.
Their astonishing 5-4 aggregate success was all the more remarkable as former European champions Juve, 3-1 ahead from the first leg of the last 16 tie, had extended their advantage in the second minute through David Trezeguet.
But the competition favourites imploded after Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro was sent off in the 28th minute for bringing down Zoltan Gera.
VIDEO: Dempsey's dink
A night that started so well for the Italians turned into a nightmare as they finished with nine men after Jonathan Zebina was sent off just before the end for kicking out at Fulham's inspirational Ireland midfielder Damien Duff.
Asked if it was the Premier League club's greatest night Fulham boss Roy Hodgson told reporters: "It must come close because we had a terrible start conceding a goal after only two minutes.
"But the crowd got behind the team and by half time I thought it was possible to turn it around and that's what happened.
"We were without senior players like (captain) Danny Murphy and Andy Johnson but we still won it. That's an incredible achievement for this club against the likes of Juve."
The victory was sweet for former Inter Milan manager Hodgson whose old team knocked Fulham's west London rivals Chelsea out of the Champions League in the last 16 on Tuesday.
By the time Cannavaro was sent off, Fulham had cancelled out Trezeguet's early strike with a superbly taken equaliser from Bobby Zamora after nine minutes.
They went into the break 2-1 ahead when Gera scored in the 39th minute after Fulham hit the bar and post through Simon Davies and Dickson Etuhu in a two-minute period before the goal.
Juventus, with Diego, Trezeguet and Mauro Camoranesi dictating the early passages of play, seemed to lose their shape, ideas and conviction after Cannavaro was dismissed.
Fulham, meanwhile, grew in stature and confidence, boosted by the frenzied support of a 23,000 crowd who added to the memorable atmosphere at a packed Craven Cottage.
The home side responded with inspired play all over the pitch and fully deserved to go 3-1 ahead on the night and make it 4-4 on aggregate after 49 minutes with a penalty.
Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers harshly awarded the spot kick after a cross from Duff hit Diego on the hand.
Gera gave veteran goalkeeper Antonio Chimenti no chance with the penalty for his second goal of the night as Juventus increasingly looked like a reeling punch drunk boxer.
Fulham continued to press for the winner to avoid extra time and when the goal came it was worthy of winning any match.
Substitute Clint Dempsey, who had only been on the pitch for 12 minutes, got the decisive strike in the 83rd minute with a brilliantly-executed long-range lobbed shot that crept in just under the frame of the goal leaving Chimenti stranded.
VIDEO: Dempsey's dink
"It was a fantastic team performance. Their goalkeeper made four outstanding saves," Fulham manager Roy Hodgson told ESPN. "Beating Juve is something special. I'm sure every one of them (Fulham fans) will remember this night for some time to come."
After beating UEFA Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk in the previous round and now Juventus, Fulham go into the draw for the quarter-finals of a European competition for the first time on Friday believing they have a chance of advancing even further.
"I don't think we would have been eliminated if it was 11 v 11," said dejected Juve coach Alberto Zaccheroni. "But good luck to Fulham, in the end they deserved it."