By Richard Morgan
Football journalist - @Richiereds1976
Fulham 1-1 Wolves: Late Romain Saiss strike denies Cottagers
Highlights and report as the spoils are shared in west London
Last Updated: 27/12/18 10:52am
Romain Saiss' late strike denied Fulham a precious win as Wolverhampton Wanderers left Craven Cottage with a 1-1 draw on Boxing Day.
Ryan Sessegnon came off the bench to open the scoring after 74 minutes, the 18-year-old's first Premier League goal at home for Fulham.
However, Claudio Ranieri's side could not keep hold of the lead, with Saiss levelling matters with a close-range finish with only five minutes left to play.
Fulham: Sergio Rico (6), Odoi (6), Mawson (7), Ream (6), Christie (5), Chambers (7), Seri (6), Bryan (6), Kamara (5), Mitrovic (9), Schurrle (6)
Subs: Ryan Sessegnon (7), McDonald (6), Cairney (7)
Wolves: Rui Patricio (6), Bennett (6), Coady (7), Boly (5), Doherty (7), Joao Moutinho (7), Saiss (7), Jonny (6), Traore (5), Jimenez (7), Gibbs-White (6)
Subs: Ivan Cavaleiro (7), Helder Costa (7), Ruben Vinagre (6)
Man of the match: Aleksandar Mitrovic
As a result, Fulham moved off the foot of the table and remain four points from safety, while Wolves stay 10th.
Fulham went into the game on the back of their first clean sheet of the season at Newcastle on Saturday. But that new-found defensive solidity was tested early on when Denis Odoi made a hash of an attempted clearance and handled the ball, although referee Andre Marriner deemed it accidental.
The home side created the better openings before the break, only for Aleksandar Mitrovic to spurn them.
The Serb headed Andre Schurrle's inviting centre just off target when well placed, before somehow failing to get a toe on Cyrus Christie's driven ball across the six-yard box and then shooting too close to Rui Patricio after selling an outrageous dummy to escape Willy Boly.
What would VAR have changed?
The extra official would have been busy in the first half and it would be interesting to see whether he would have given a penalty to the visitors after Odoi’s early handball, while Chambers may also have been in trouble with the VAR after two naughty tackles.
The visitors will feel their task should have been made easier by the sending off of Calum Chambers but, despite two questionable tackles, the Fulham holding midfielder was only yellow carded once before the break.
Fulham took advantage of that stroke of luck to make a crucial breakthrough with just 16 minutes to go after Alfie Mawson did well to head Jean Seri's lofted free kick across the box, forcing Patricio to punch clear under pressure from Odoi.
Wolves made one change from the side that lost 2-0 to Liverpool last Friday, with Morgan Gibbs-White replacing Ruben Neves, who dropped to the bench.
It was also one change for Fulham from their goalless draw at Newcastle last time out, with Aboubakar Kamara coming in for Tom Cairney, who was a sub, while Ryan Sessegnon returned to the bench following a groin strain.
However, the ball dropped straight at the feet of Sessegnon, who did well to fire it back through a posse of Wolves players in the six-yard box and into the back of the net.
Fulham's lead lasted just over 10 minutes before Wolves drew level after a lovely team goal involving Joao Moutinho and Ivan Cavaleiro down the left flank, with the latter firing an inviting ball across the six-yard box.
Fellow substitute Helder Costa reached the centre at the far post, with Saiss in the right place to convert from virtually on the line, the Morocco international's first Premier League goal for Wolves.
Mitrovic almost won it in the last minute, only for Wolves captain Conor Coady to scamper back to make a last-gasp goal-line clearance as Fulham's winless run stretched to six matches.
- Fulham have conceded in all but one of their last 23 Premier League fixtures
- Wolves have lost just one of their last eight Premier League games in London (W3 D4)
- Wolves have scored 75% of their Premier League goals in the second half of their games this season (15/20), the highest proportion in the competition
- This was Wolves' 100th league game played on Boxing Day, making them just the second side to play as many on the date (after West Bromwich Albion)
- Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon has scored his first league goal as a substitute since August 2016, when he netted his first-ever goal for Fulham against Cardiff, 858 days ago
- Since his league debut in August 2016, Ryan Sessegnon has been directly involved in more league goals (inc. playoffs) than any other Fulham player (23 goals, 14 assists)
- At 18 years and 221 days old, Fulham teenager Ryan Sessegnon is the third youngest player to score in the Premier League on Boxing Day, after James Milner (16y 356d in 2002) and Michael Owen (18y 12d in 1997)
Man of the Match - Aleksandar Mitrovic
Where would struggling Fulham be without their talismanic captain, who was a thorn in the visitors' back line all afternoon long at the Cottage?
The Serbia international mustered seven shots in the first half alone, the most of any player in the first 45 minutes of a Premier League game this season.
And the striker was desperately unlucky not to win it late on for the west London club, but opposite number Conor Coady got back just in time to hook his shot off the line.
Claudio Ranieri: "I'm a little disappointed because I think we deserved more in the first half. In the second half after we scored they found a solution, but I'm satisfied with our performance. We were solid, we worked hard against a good team.
"Mitrovic had the chance to win the match, but in this moment we have to stay together and be positive."
Nuno Espirito Santo: "The first half was not a good performance. Fulham were well organised and there was no space.
"In the second half we were better, we were on the front foot and got our deserved reward. I would not say [we were] lucky. Lucky can hide many things. I felt in the first half we didn't perform. What I'm feeling is the starting XI was not the best choice.
"But I'm happy, in the second half we played better and got a deserved draw."
Fulham host fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town, while Wolves travel to Tottenham, with both league games kicking off at 3pm on Saturday.