Fulham dominate Crystal Palace but again come out with only a point

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Ben Bloom
·18 min read
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Crystal Palace's English defender Gary Cahill (C) blocks a shot from Fulham's Danish defender Joachim Andersen (L) during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Fulham at Selhurst Park in south London on Febraury 28, 2021 - AFP/ANDREW BOYERS 
Crystal Palace's English defender Gary Cahill (C) blocks a shot from Fulham's Danish defender Joachim Andersen (L) during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Fulham at Selhurst Park in south London on Febraury 28, 2021 - AFP/ANDREW BOYERS
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With Roy Hodgson content to steadily edge Crystal Palace towards Premier League safety, this point earned is another feather in their pragmatic manager’s cap on his 150th game at the helm. For their increasingly dissatisfied fans it is a rather different story.

This was the second successive game in which Palace have been totally outplayed and the four points they unexpectedly have to show from those matches will do little to placate their disgruntled supporters after watching their unimaginative side somehow keep a Fulham second-half onslaught at bay. Does continued Premier League survival – which Hodgson looks likely to deliver again – override all semblance of ambition?

Given Palace’s lack of effort to win, this must go down as a missed opportunity for Fulham, but it serves as further proof that Scott Parker is capable of keeping his side in the top flight after extending their unbeaten run to five matches following a remarkable turnaround in their season.

Parker counted his side unlucky not to have taken all three points with Josh Maja twice going close after the hour and Ruben Loftus-Cheek hammering a sweet half-volley inches wide minutes later.

There was to be no winning goal, but Fulham are just three points behind Newcastle in 17th, with Parker hopeful ahead of a testing fortnight in which they face ­Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City.

“In terms of the opportunities we created, we fully deserved to win,” he said. “I believe in this team. They believe as well. I believe we can beat clubs and we go into Thursday’s game [against Tottenham] trying to win.”

Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace v Fulham - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - February 28, 2021 Fulham manager Scott Parker before the match - Pool via REUTERS /GLYN KIRK 
Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace v Fulham - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - February 28, 2021 Fulham manager Scott Parker before the match - Pool via REUTERS /GLYN KIRK

An awful first period yielded a total of just three efforts from both sides, all of which were off target.

Parker directed Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ademola Lookman to take up wider positions in the second half and it came close to having the desired effect.

Maja had Vicente Guaita scrambling to his right as his curled effort slipped just wide, before the Palace goalkeeper produced a stunning save at full stretch to keep out Maja’s point-blank header.

Fulham continued to dominate with Lookman and Maja both shooting wide.

Hodgson had made no apologies for the manner of his side’s unlikely victory at Brighton – where they had just three shots – earlier in the week and insisted he had not set his side out to be so passive here in the absence of injured creator Wilfried Zaha.

“Our ambition was to attack and to create lots of goal chances,” he said. “But you have to play the game that’s out there. I’ve got to be happy that in a game where we didn’t create enough chances – and we were disappointed we didn’t win the game – that we did enough defensively to draw the game.”

With Hodgson’s contract up at the end of the season, there is a large section of the Palace fan base unable to stomach much more of this drab football. Their side have managed just nine touches in the opposing penalty area in their past two matches, compared to 70 by their opponents.

But with a 10-point cushion to the relegation zone, Hodgson will remain unfazed. Safety looms large again for Palace, and Fulham have reason to believe they can join them.

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01:54 PM

FULL TIME: Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

That is a much better second half, but still goalless. Scott Parker will be disappointed with that. They didn't exactly pummel the Palace goal in the second 45 but created enough think they could have claimed three points. Still it's another good performance and another point gained. Palace should be delighted with the point.

01:52 PM

90+3 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

One final attack for Fulham. Loftus-Cheek sprays it out wide on the right but the ball comes back. He does the same, Cavaleiro fighting to keep the ball in and he does. Tete sends in a cross but Mitrovic at the far post cannot get anything on it, not that he was that close.

01:49 PM

90+1 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Lookman takes... Tosin gets his head on it 15 yards out and it's never going to threaten from there. Just loops wide.

Three minutes of added time.

01:48 PM

90 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Fulham break with the rapid Robinson, who is fouled on the left edge of the box. A final chance for Fulham?

01:47 PM

89 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

There's a chance! Lookman on the left of the box eight yards out, ball comes in over the top and he hits it first time with his right... but it's wide of the far post! Should he have done better? Maybe but it would have been a cracking goal.

01:45 PM

87 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Maja finds an opening on the left of the box but the ball runs just a bit too quickly towards the byline and his shot is from too acute an angle to trouble the keeper.

01:43 PM

84 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Can Fulham create something? It has been a bit quieter in front of the Palace goal in the last 10 minutes. Just five minutes of normal time left.

01:41 PM

82 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Crystal Palace just edging into this game a bit more now. Antonee Robinson is booked.

01:38 PM

79 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Maja falls over himself with the ball at his feet and Townsend eventually wins a rare Palace corner, their first of the game. Good ball in from Townsend but Benteke's header is looping and not well directed.

01:36 PM

77 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Palace have barely been in the game and have been well out of it in this half particularly. Think they would be delighted with a draw as it stands.

01:33 PM

75 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Time is running out for Fulham, that old cliche. Robinson in space on the left, he has been quiet since coming on as most of the play has been down the right for Fulham. Cavaleiro has a shot from the right, 22 yards out but drags it well wide. A cross may have been a better bet.

01:31 PM

72 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Mitrovic getting ready to come on, and it's Anguissa who makes way. Fulham on the verge of "deserving" three points here but they have to score. And not concede, obviously.

01:28 PM

69 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Fulham corner, it eventually falls to Andersen on the left, eight yards out has a shot but Gary Cahill slides in and blocks desperately. Great defending but Fulham edging closer here.

Loftus-Cheek has a crack from distance! Cavaleiro chests it down to him, he waits for it to sit up and volleys hard but cuts across it a bit too much. Slight slice and it goes wide.

01:26 PM

67 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Maja in again! Cavaleiro with a quick and hard cross from the right. Maja is there with his head. it's on target but Guiata sticks out his left hand and keeps it 0-0. Should have done better that time, definitely. Head. It. Down. Good save, though.

01:25 PM

66 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

That is clear chance. Maja has a shot from the edge of the box after a neat flick on from Loftus-Cheek. It's struck well with his left but slides just past the far post. Should have done a bit better there. But this is more promising from Fulham. Just need to make it pay now.

Decordova-Reid off for Cavaleiro.

01:22 PM

63 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Palace win a free kick in a good position, from the left corner of the box. Townsend with a good, whipped and dipping delivery in but nobody can get their head on it from either side. Cahill is probably the closest but barely even an attempt from Palace.

01:21 PM

60 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Palace make their first attack of the half via Townsend but Fulham clear their lines.

01:16 PM

58 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Fulham have come out with more intent. Or that is how it seems. Either way, they are actually creating something now and look like making their dominance pay. Loftus-Cheek with a low shot from the right, 22 yards out. He's in space and tries to curl it with his left but he can't get the connection quite right and Guaita saves again.

01:14 PM

56 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Andersen lines it up, fires hard and low to the keeper's right but wide of the post. Not by much and Guaita had gone the wrong way and was firmly wrong-fotted there.

01:13 PM

54 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Fairly poor corner is cut out by Townsend. Fulham come again, Andersen latching onto a looping ball, gets a half-decent connection but it rolls to Guaita. Better from Fulham.

Milivojevic fouls Loftus-Cheek and gives away a free kick 25 yards out, right in front of goal.

01:11 PM

52 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Decordova-Reid and Tete link up on the right and win a corner for Fulham. Could have been a bit more but a corner will do for now.

01:10 PM

51 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Another shot on target. A free kick whipped in from deep on the right, Tosin turns his back on it and can only glance it down into the hands of Guaita. Good ball in but just difficult to get much power on the header.

01:08 PM

49 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Would a draw suit both sides? I mean, Fulham have been the draw specialists this season, especially in the last few months. It wouldn't be a terrible result for them, though, but a win would be fantastic, taking them to within a point of safety. Palace – well, it's another point.

01:05 PM

SECOND HALF

We are playing again at Selhurst Park. Let's hope for something better...

Maja... has a shot? For Fulham. From distance, just in the Palace half on the right touchline. It's safely into the hands of the keeper and it is definitely a shot. And one on target!

01:02 PM

Change for Fulham

Antonee Robinson on for Aina.

12:47 PM

HALF TIME - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Very much a game of little. Fulham probably the happier, they have been just about better than Palace. Probably one of the dullest halves I've seen for quite some time.

12:45 PM

44 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Aina bursts through with the help of Lookman. Anguissa thinks about a shot from 25 yards out but decides against it and wastes his cross.

12:43 PM

42 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Cahill sends a good ball from the back out to Ward, he finds Townsend who sends in another cross of his own. Areola comes out and claims comfortably. Could really do with a shot... on target... or something, in this game.

12:40 PM

40 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

No goals in this one but two in the other match happening concurrently. Arsenal have equalised via David Luiz. 1-1 at the King Power stadium.

12:39 PM

38 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Well, what can you say about this half? It has lacked quality or inspiration of any kind in the final third. Decordova-Reid gets a scrape down his lower leg from Benteke. Looks painful but he'll be fine. He is still limping a bit a minute or two after. "Run it off," my dad would say.

12:36 PM

35 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Another Fulham free kick sees Andersen head over. A much better chance this time as a free kick from the right edge of the box comes in. A free header as he loses Kouyate, but it's a mistimed header and he lands awkwardly. Came off his face more than his head, it seems.

12:33 PM

32 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

That's a chance... of sorts. Fulham corner from the right is a big outswinger. Andersen gets his head on it but the connection isn't full enough and it slips harmlessly wide of the far post.

12:31 PM

29 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

A little better from Palace in the last five minutes, with Townsend involved on the right. Fulham have been the better side and more comfortable but have also created next to nothing. Not a great game, this. A real lack of urgency.

12:29 PM

26 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Ooh, searching cross from Townsend from the right corner of the box. He sends it in with his left, Benteke is waiting in the middle but Andersen pokes it back to Areola from seven or so yards out. Heart in mouth moment, there. Closest any side has come.

12:28 PM

25 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Palace really struggling to get out of their own half... they do this time, with Townsend on the right. His cross finds Ayew but he can't control it quickly enough. Still no clear chances – or even half-chances – for either side though Fulham definitely having the better of it.

Bobby De Cordova-Reid of Fulham battles for possession with Gary Cahill of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Fulham at Selhurst Park on February 28, 2021  - Getty Images Europe /Mike Hewitt 
Bobby De Cordova-Reid of Fulham battles for possession with Gary Cahill of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Fulham at Selhurst Park on February 28, 2021 - Getty Images Europe /Mike Hewitt

12:25 PM

23 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Riedewald fouls Reed though he was only marginally late as Reed was sliding in. Fulham come again with this free kick.

12:23 PM

22 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Fulham with a free kick of their own now, in a more dangerous spot. Reed in... trying to find Decordova-Reid but the danger is snuffed out by Milivojevic.

12:22 PM

19 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Palace have a free kick though it is 45 yards out and comes to nothing. A bit of a ponderous delivery. Fulham win a throw, with Parker quickly throwing the ball back to his man on the touchline. He's keen! And well dressed.

12:19 PM

17 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Fulham on the right, looking promising but Cahill slides in and cuts out the danger... for now. Palace under a little bit of pressure here, without much ball in the last 10 minutes. Fulham have not really been close to hinting at a chance, though, never mind actually creating one.

12:16 PM

14 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Van Aanholt is pressured in his own box and can only boot it out for a throw in 10 yards from the corner flag. Fulham pretty intense out there with a bit more of it in the last five minutes.

12:13 PM

11 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Lookman harries Ward, going backwards but is a bit too eager and gives away a free kick just in the Palace half.

12:10 PM

9 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Palace attack. Ayew crosses in to Benteke on the left of the box, tough to control and he tries to chest it but can't get it down enough to be able to get a shot away. Was quite a floaty cross and I don't think he could have done much more, but he was in a promising position.

12:08 PM

7 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Not a great deal of action to note in the first seven minutes of this one but Arsenal have gone behind to Leicester...

12:07 PM

5 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

Decordova-Reid into the box and looking promising but loses control. Palace win a free kick just outside the box.

12:05 PM

3 mins - Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0

A cross comes in from the right to Lookman on the edge of the box but he cannot work enough space to get a decent shot away.

12:01 PM

KICK OFF!

We are under way at Selhurst Park.

11:59 AM

We're nearly ready to go

Predictions? Very tough to call. 2-1 Fulham, I think.

11:54 AM

The managers speak

Hodgson asks about how well Palace can cope with Zaha. He says that they coped when they beat Brighton.

I have no reason to doubt them today. It's another very important fixture for us against a team playing well at the moment. It will be a hard ask.

Scott Parker:

Big opportunity. I think we've probably seen that over the last few weeks. Of course, results have brought other teams into play. I think we're a very different team [to when they played Palace last time]. New to the league at that point. This team has improved drastically over that course of time. This has been a team that has progressed and improved.

11:51 AM

How Fulham's shrewd recruitment is powering their Premier League survival chances

In the last three months, Fulham have been a far stronger team than the league table suggests. Since the end of November they have lost only four league matches, all against the current top four. And in the last 14 games they have conceded just 13 goals, a defensive record bettered by only Burnley and Manchester City.

Read more from Sam Dean here.

11:38 AM

Palace's form has been fairly mixed

Two defeats in their last three, including a 3-0 defeat to Burnley, but three wins in their last five.

W 2-1 vs Brighton away
L 3-0 vs Burnley at home
L 2-0 vs Leeds away
W 2-1 vs Newcastle away
W 1-0 vs Wolves at home

11:32 AM

Fulham in decent form of late

At least for a side that is in the relegation zone. Two wins in their last three games and only one defeat in their last five. Here's how they've been doing.

W 1-0 vs Sheffield United at home
D 1-1 vs Burnley away
W 2-0 vs Everton away
D 0-0 vs West Ham at home
L 2-0 vs Leicester at home

11:23 AM

Premier League table - 11-20

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Palace still sort of hovering around that danger zone but 10 points clear of Fulham in the final relegation spot means there cannot be too much concern at present. Fulham have been pulling their way gradually up the table in the last month or so.

11:04 AM

Fulham starting XI

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11:03 AM

Crystal Palace starting XI

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10:58 AM

Morning!

Hello and welcome to coverage of Crystal Palace vs Fulham from Selhurst Park.

Palace are 10 points clear of the relegation zone after their last-gasp win over Brighton on Monday.

Christian Benteke scored the winner at the Amex Stadium and manager Roy Hodgson is hopeful the Belgian striker can get back to his best.

"If you don't score goals as a centre-forward, you don't get too many pats on the back," Hodgson said. "We'll be happy as long as he's getting into those positions. We believe if he keeps doing that he will score goals and they don't all have to be as spectacular as the one the other night.

"If he gets a run of games, which he'd need to merit because there are other players looking to take his position, then let's hope he can make certain the false dawn that has been alluded to isn't a false dawn and we get back Christian Benteke in the same form he was several years ago."

Meanwhile, Fulham boss Scott Parker has hailed goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who joined the club on a year-long deal from Paris Saint Germain in the summer and has kept seven clean sheets.

"To be fair before he came to the club we looked at it and thought what do we need. And certainly in this moment physicality, presence, bravery as a keeper in terms of all those attributes was something that me and Rob (Burch, goalkeeping coach) highlighted really," he said.

"And looking at Alphonse and his stature and games he has played, I had no doubt that was what he was. A very aggressive keeper, a front-foot keeper who wants to come and command his box, come and collect.

"Physically very very big, agile. They were all the areas we looked at and they were the areas he ticked those boxes, and that was exactly what we need and we've not been shocked in any way by that.

"If anything, it's just proved even more so that when he has come in, what we see daily and what we see in games is exactly that so he has been very good."