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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Craven Cottage

Fulham do everything but score in pulsating encounter with dogged Everton

Keeping watch - Fulham under the lights - Picture: @JTJourno

Fulham 0

Everton 0

They managed 42 shots between them - the lion's share to Fulham with 25 - but in the end the game somehow ended goalless.

It was one of those thrilling games that defies logic. The xGs were working overtime, but the white nets stayed virginal to the end.

Fulham once again showed they badly miss the cutting edge that would reward some fine football, but at least they gave a good account of themselves and look way too good to get sucked into any dogfight at the bottom.

Everton, obstinate and tenacious, perhaps deserved the luck they got to hold onto a point, although they dropped into the bottom three because of Luton's crushing victory over Brighton.

It has not been a happy week for the Whites. Dumped out of both domestic cup competitions and the club's doyens seemingly at loggerheads with some of the fanbase over ticket prices.

If ever a win was needed to bring some cheer, this was the moment. But at least they put in a good performance.

The remainder of Fulham's season does not exactly scream unfettered excitement, but mid-table safety has to be the ambition now.

Dispelling the gloom from defeat to Newcastle in the FA Cup looked more likely with a starting XI including key players who did not feature at kick-off against the Geordies.

Joao Palhinha, Tom Cairney and Raul Jimenez returned. Harry Wilson's shoulder injury ruled him out, but it was otherwise the strongest possible line-up.

Palhinha in particular, was astonishing. One minute flashing a header over from an Andreas Pereira free-kick, then tracking back to thwart a marauding Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

He was everywhere during an action-packed first half, picking up an inevitable booking in his efforts to bend the game to his will. Cairney too, was soon threading beautiful passes with that gossamer-light touch.

A riveting tempo guaranteed thrills and spills at both ends. Robinson forced Jordan Pickford into a save, Pereira just cleared the bar with a rasper.

Jimenez missed a glorious chance from close in after Bobby Decordova-Reid teed up Castagne for a shot that was charged down but fell into the path of the Mexican, who should really have scored.

Everton had their moments too. Jack Harrison blazed wide early on and Arnaut Danjuma's run from deep almost ended in a goal for the Toffees.

The Whites had an almighty let off when a scuffed shot bounced down off the crossbar via the head of Issa Diop and was on its way across the line after seemingly brushing off Antonee Robinson's arm until Timothy Castagne stuck out a leg to flick the ball away.

Two seasons ago, the teams played out another thrilling goalless draw at the Cottage and somehow it was again 0-0 despite a host of chances for both sides.

The chances kept coming after the break too. Calvert-Lewin clipped the top of the crossbar with a header from a corner and then nodded onto the roof of the net.

But that was merely a prelude to an incredible spell of pressure from Marco Silva's men that seemed as though it must surely bear fruit eventually. Shots rained in. Everton dropped deeper and deeper. Corner after corner added to the increasing pressure. They won 15 of them, in all.

Ben Godfrey somehow got back to prevent Willian from tapping in a De Cordova-Reid cross. Castagne's head connected with a De Cordova-Reid nod goalwards and it clipped the bar.

And they came even closer when Tosin's header from a Willian cross looked destined for the top corner, only for England's number one Pickford to claw away with a superb save.

Both substitute strikers could have won it at the death too. Rodrigo Muniz, who came on for Jimenez at half time, missed from close range when it seemed easier to score and Beto, for Everton, nodded over from even closer in.

This was a game that had everything apart from a goal.

Whites: (4-2-3-1) Leno - Castagne, Tosin, Diop (Ream 75), Robinson - Joao Palhinha, Cairney - De Cordova-Reid, Pereira, Willian - Jimenez (Muniz h/t)

Toffees: (4-4-1-1) Pickford - Godfrey, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Mykolenko - Young (Patterson 82), Garner, McNeil, Danjuma (Dobbin 90) - Harrison - Calvert-Lewin (Beto 81)

Attendance: 24,376


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