Scott Parker was left to focus on Fulham’s battling qualities as they withstood a second-half Cardiff City barrage to clinch a Championship play-off final place.
The west London club will face Brentford at Wembley on Tuesday for the final spot in the Premier League.
The Whites saw their eight-game unbeaten run come to an end as they lost 2-1 at Craven Cottage but progressed 3-2 on aggregate.
Fulham head coach Parker said: “It’s an incredible achievement in a drawn out season. That was our 48th game – the goal was to get to the final and we’ve done that.
“The performance tonight was tough. Cardiff made it very difficult for us. They came here as a wounded animal after the first leg and had nothing to lose.
“You probably saw the difference in the teams – there was a bit of an edginess around us. They constantly put you under pressure because they can put the ball in your box from literally all over the pitch. They get a throw in on the halfway line and the ball is coming in your box.
“At times we didn’t deal with that well enough tonight and we all recognise we need to be better.
“I talk about mentality and mindset and that’s what it was about – rolling your sleeves up. You’ve got to have a desperation to do all that you can. Big players need to step up and Marek Rodak pulled off some excellent saves to keep us in it.
“We end up getting to the final, which is perfect.
“Brentford are a very good side. You need to produce performances. It was a good result for them on Wednesday, before that they came off the back of three defeats.
“But a final is a final – form goes out the window.
“When the going gets tough at certain times in football matches, tactics and technical ability go right out the window. There are points which is nothing to do with tactics or technique – it’s to do with a mindset and the moment.
“In the second half [against Cardiff] it was about you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win a football match and get to a final. We did that. It’s always going to happen in football matches.
“That’s part of developing teams and developing a mentality.”
Marek Rodak made a superb save in the second period to deny Cardiff moving the tie on to level terms.
Parker said: “He put in a big performance tonight. When he needed to make saves to keep us in the game he did that. He’s done that throughout the season, to be fair.
“That’s what you need when you’re under it. You need keepers to make saves and defenders to make blocks.”
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