Stalemate for Fulham, Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur escaped Craven Cottage with a point after Fulham failed to capitalise on their superiority in today's Premier League clash.
Spurs had Heurelho Gomes to thank for keeping them in contention with the Brazilian keeper making a string of fine saves. In the second half alone, he kept out goalbound efforts from Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora, while Damien Duff and Zoltan Gera also went close.
Dempsey struck the woodwork and Gomes was by far the busier keeper, with opposite number Mark Schwarzer scarcely troubled on a comfortable afternoon for Fulham's defence. When Schwarzer did intervene, it was to produce a brilliant double save from Peter Crouch and Jermaine Jenas with 10 minutes to go.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp opted to start club captain Robbie Keane - who has recently been playing second fiddle to Jermain Defoe - alongside Crouch in attack. The move backfired as Keane was totally ineffective, though he was hardly helped by the mediocrity around him as Spurs - who host West Ham on Monday - struggled to make any impression.
After the jubilation at routing Manchester United 3-0 last Saturday, this goalless draw felt like a comedown for a Fulham side in magnificent form. Heading into the first of two London derbies over Christmas - they also face Chelsea on Monday - Fulham had won four of their last five matches and were unbeaten in their last seven.
And though they could mount a far stronger case for deserving to win than Spurs with Zamora impressing yet again, they just lacked a clinical touch. Fulham kept faith with the same starting line-up that dismantled United, though included Andy Johnson on the bench following his recovery from a groin injury.
One of the goalscorers against the champions, Duff, helped Fulham make a bright start by testing Gomes from close range. The Brazilian keeper then had to keep his wits about him as Gera craftily back healed John Pantsil's pass towards goal.
Fulham continued their impressive start with Gomes tipping a shot by Danny Murphy over the crossbar and Gera nodding a Duff corner wide. Niko Kranjcar found the side netting with a free-kick as Spurs enjoyed a rare moment of respite from the one-way traffic.
Fulham could have taken the lead in the 24th minute when Zamora expertly set up Dempsey only for the American to drag a fine chance wide. Keane turned left-back Paul Konchesky inside out but Brede Hangeland was on hand to head clear his cross as Spurs produced an encouraging passage of play.
Aaron Lennon broke free down the right flank but was dealt with efficiently by Konchesky before firing a shot straight at Schwarzer. Fulham were no longer dominating as they had done earlier in the half but Dempsey hit the crossbar with a 30-yard free-kick to remind Spurs they could ill afford any lapses in concentration.
Redknapp's side continued to live dangerously as Michael Dawson was almost caught napping by Gera and at the other end Aaron Hughes made a great tackle on Keane, who had broken free down the left. Kranjcar appealed for am optimistic penalty after being up-ended by Gera and a match that was meandering aimlessly desperately needed a goal.
Zamora almost provided it when he connected cleanly with Duff's cross but Gomes intervened at the crucial moment. Duff and Zamora then combined to set up a great chance for Dempsey but the USA forward's shot did not have enough power on it, allowing Gomes to save.
It was then Zamora's turn to be denied by Gomes and a heartbeat later Defoe, who had replaced Keane, stabbed over the crossbar. Fulham had Schwarzer to thank for keeping them level after the Australian first denied Crouch and then Jermaine Jenas with two brilliant stops. Duff had a glorious late chance to clinch victory but fired across the face of goal.