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  • By Yann Tear at Craven Cottage

Willian shines but stubborn Everton rearguard thwart high-tempo Fulham in gripping contest

Fulham (0) 0

Everton (0) 0

Here was a game to give 0-0s a good name.

We had everything but goals in a match of unrelenting pace and attacking intent. The Whites amassed 24 shots at goal to Everton’s nine and made by far the stronger case for winning it.

Willian, in particular, was a revelation, and deserved to be on the winning side but it was not to be. In the end, the stubborn Toffees defended manfully to hold onto the point – the Conor Coady and James Tarkowski axis proving just too determined.

The pace of the contest seldom dropped and there was dramatic action from the word go.

Bernd Leno was called into action early on, having to thrust up a strong arm to keep out a piledriver from Demarai Gray.

But the end-to-end nature of the opening minutes soon saw Willian forcing Jordan Pickford into an even better save from a shot on the turn inside the area.

The England keeper, his eye now in, then leapt up to tip over a blistering 12-yard header from Aleksandar Mitrovic and ten another sharp attempt from just outside the box from Harrison Reed.

It was a case of tit-for-tat and the Merseysiders should have gone in front when Dominic Calvert-Lewin got on the end of a cross from Gray, only to skew wide.

Tim Ream joined the attack to glance a cross from Andreas Pereira just wide in an attack where Tarkowski appeared to get away with wrestling Bobby Decordova-Reid to the ground.

After the break, there was another moment where the Whites thought they might have a penalty – Willian tumbling under a touch from Idrissa Gueye. Again, ref John Brooks was unmoved, as was the man on VAR duty, Darren England.

Willian arguably produced his best display in a Fulham shirt so far with an energetic contribution – full of good promptings from deep and urgent scampering. He linked up well with Mitrovic and was not afraid to have a crack at goal – testing Pickford early in the second half.

He never flagged and showed more than during his forgotten months with Arsenal, where he seemed to have lost his love of the game. Here, the zest had returned.

Mitrovic himself was never far from the action, flashing a near post header just over and then blazing too high after a ball dropped nicely into his path 12 yards out, off Willian’s back. As the half progressed, Fulham become more assertive and pressed hard to force a winner.

Tom Cairney was thrown on to further test the cadre spirit in the Everton ranks – but their willingness to throw bodies in the way did not let up and two men flung themselves in to block a shot from the Fulham skipper.

It typified the visitors’ commitment and desire for the fight.

Whites: (4-2-3-1) Leno – Decordova-Reid (Tete 76), Diop, Ream, Robinson – Reed, Palhinha – Kebano (Wilson 67), Pereira (Cairney 76), Willian – Mitrovic. Subs not used: Rodak, Tosin, Duffy, James, Vinicius, Harris

Toffees: (4-2-3-1) Pickford – Coleman (Patterson 64), Tarkowski, Coady, Mykolenko – Gueye (Garner 64), Onana – Gray (McNeil 75), Iwobi, Gordon (Maupay 86), Calvert-Lewin. Subs not used: Begovic, Holgate, Keane, Doucoure, Davies

Attendance: 23,534


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