Chelsea 0 Fulham 0

By Paul Lagan
Last updated : 28 November 2012

Chelsea failed to score again as Rafa Benitez's side played out a scoreless bore at Stamford Bridge tonight.

Fulham can take great credit for gaining a hard, but well deserved point

The Blues simply were hopeless in the final third of the pitch, Fulham resolute at the back and dangerous on the break

Ironically Chelsea move up a place to third but only because WBA lost and the Blues have a better goal difference than the Midlanders.

The chorus of boos that greeted Rafa Benitez's second scoreless draw in a row spoke volumes about how far the Champions of Europe have fallen in recent weeks.

It was tentative start by Fulham, who set their stall out early, content to sit back in their final third, and allowing Chelsea to play keep-ball.

The home side's first effort, if you could call it that was a wayward 25-yard shot by Ramires, on six minutes, that ended up in row z of the Shed.

Fulham with their 4:4:1:1 formation look set up to stifle the Chelsea engine room in midfield and the opening exchanges certainly appear to prove that.

The expected crowed dissent against Rafa Benitez's appointment arrived, as expected, on the 16th minutes with chants of 'One Di Matteo'.

Fulham did get into Chelsea's half courtesy of a lump out from defence by right-back Sascha Riether, on 20 minutes. However, ex-Chelsea winger Damian Duff failed to control it and the half-chance was lost.

With Fulham finding Chelsea's open-play attacks easy to block. Perhaps a set-play might have proved fruitful.

On 25 minutes, following a Hugo Rodallega foul, David Luiz tried his luck from 25-yards and proceeded to hit the same row z as Ramires, much to the delight of the 3,000 away fans who trekked down the Fulham Road for the derby.

Chelsea finally had their first direct effort in goal on 29 minutes.

Spanish right-back Cesar Azpilicueta fed the ball into Fernando Torres. The striker collected the ball and turned in one neat move, 10 yards out. He drove less than fierce left-footer that went through the legs of Aaron Hughes. But goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was quick to react and smothered the ball.

Fulham equalled that eight minutes later, when a quick counter-attack saw Rodallega let fly from 29 yards. The ball arrowed straight into the midriff of a grateful Petr Cech.

Whenever Fulham were on the receiving end of a decision against them from referee Anthony Taylor, their cheerful fans chanted: 'We want Mark Clattenberg'.

There was no changes for the start of the second half and the opening play mirrored that of the first, the Blues in possession, Fulham camped outside their penalty area soaking up the pressure.

Eden Hazard tried the unconventional, on 52 minutes, and actually ran at the Fulham defence. He was a bit unlucky to see a penetrating pass clip off the leg of Hughes and toward Schwarzer.

Fulham really should have scored three minutes later when a defence-splitting ball by Giorgos Karagounis fell invitingly to in-running John Arne Riise. Unfortunately for the left-back he mistimed his shot and the weak effort was snuffed out by Cech.

With no goals to come in the best part of a game and three quarters of Rafa Benitez's tenure in charge at SW6, the Spaniard decided to make a change on 62 minutes and brought on Spain midfielder.Juan Mata to inject some pace and inventive purpose into the side. He replaced hard-working but ineffectual Ryan Bertrand.

Fulham boss Martin Jol responded by replacing Mahamadou Diarra for Chris Baird a minute later.

The change almost reaped an instant dividend when Mata sent in a curling corner on 65 minutes only for recipient Branislav Ivanovic to glance the ball across goal instead of towards goal.

Ivanovic entered Taylor's book for dissent on 68 minutes, following Oriel Romeu's foul on Steve Sidwell.

Baird's solidly-driven right-footer, was on target from 20 yards but Cech held comfortably.

Romeu quickly followed Ivanovic with a yellow card for a needles challenge on Dimitar Berbatov, as the home side became increasingly frustrated at their inability to pierce a resolute Fulham rearguard.

David Luiz then body-checked Riether and became the third Blue recipient of a yellow card.

Cech then produced a brilliant save from a Riise blaster with 16 minutes to go, diving to his right to thwart the former Liverpool hard man as Fulham realised that with a bit more adventure on their part, three points were theirs for the taking.

However with such adventure lies the prospect of becoming unstuck at the other end and Hughes produced a goal-line clearance to deny a snap shot by Torres on 79 minutes.

Fulham thought they had a penalty when substitute Kerim Frei appeared to be clipped by Ramires, but Taylor waved away the appeal.

Benitez then brought on German international wing Marko Marin for his debut in place of Hazard on 82 minutes with Jol responded again, by replacing Rodallega for Mladen Petric.

As the minutes ticked down the frustrated Chelsea faithful rang out as one, 'We want our Chelsea back,' and more 'Di Matteo'.

Fulham fans teased the fans leaving early by shouting 'Is there a fire drill?' Bemitez has said that the objective of his time at Stamford Bridge is to win, two draws with no goals to show for it is not the best way forward.

Fulham can take comfort that with defending like this and sharp breakaways then their season won't result in a charge for Europe, but it won't leave them looking over their shoulders at the drop zone.

Teams: Chelsea - Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Luiz, Romeu, Ramires, Torres, Oscar, Hazard, Azpilicueta Bertrand.

Subs, Turnbull, Mata, Mikel, Moses, Ferreira, Marin, Cahill

Fulham - Schwarzer, Riise, Senderos, Sidwell, Berbatov, Karagounis, Duff, Hughes, Diarra, Rodallega, Riether Subs, Etheridge, Kelly, Baird, Kasami, Petric, Frei, Dejagah

Referee - Anthony Taylor

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