Newcastle 0-0 Fulham: Penalty appeals for both in goalless draw
Report and highlights as Newcastle are held by Fulham
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 22/12/18 9:51pm
Newcastle were held to a 0-0 draw at St James' Park by a Fulham side that kept their first clean sheet of the season.
Neither side were able to create too much but both will feel they could have had the points if penalty appeals had gone their way late in the game.
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Substitute Kenedy appeared to be tugged down by Joe Bryan in the Fulham box before Aleksandar Mitrovic, against his old club, had a shot blocked by the arm of Jamaal Lascelles.
Ultimately, Claudio Ranieri's Fulham remain bottom but they showed resolve using a new formation, while Rafa Benitez will again be left thinking decisions have cost his team.
Newcastle: Dubravka (5), Manquillo (6), Schar (6), Lascelles (7), Dummett (6), Diame (6), Ki (7), Ritchie (6), Perez (6), Rondon (6), Atsu (6)
Subs: Kenedy (6), Yedlin (n/a)
Fulham: Rico (6), Odoi (7), Mawson (7), Ream (7), Bryan (6), Christie (7), Chambers (6), Seri (6), Cairney (6), Schurrle (6), Mitrovic (6)
Subs: Ayite (6), Kamara (6)
Man of the match: Alfie Mawson
Ranieri's switch to a back-three - although Benitez referred to it as a back-five - seemed to help Fulham as it at least gave them bodies in defence. Newcastle could not break through.
The home side did not attempt a shot on goal until Ki Sung-yueng dragged a long-range effort wide in the 36th minute. Sergio Rico got to the break without needing to make a save.
The most action that the Fulham goalkeeper saw in that opening 45 minutes was to punch his own defender when Alfie Mawson bravely put himself in harm's way.
Rafa Benitez made two changes to the Newcastle team that won at Huddersfield. Paul Dummett came in for the injured Ciaran Clark, while Matt Ritchie returned as a replacement for Kenedy.
Claudio Ranieri made only one change to the Fulham team that was beaten at home to West Ham as Cyrus Christie came in for Aboubakar Kamara.
But the game did come to life following the introduction of Kenedy. In the 77th minute, he looked set to head home a left-wing cross only for Bryan to appear to knock him off balance.
Fulham had a strong shout of their own in the final minutes when Mitrovic, having moments before almost dispossessed a dallying Martin Dubravka, had his shot blocked by an arm.
The ball struck Lascelles high on the arm but he was leaning into it and the decision could easily have gone against Newcastle. As it was, both teams were left bemoaning their luck.
- Benitez has yet to lose a home Premier League game against Fulham (W4 D4), with his teams keeping a clean sheet in each of the last six meetings.
- Fulham kept their first clean sheet in the Premier League in 22 games, since winning 1-0 against Norwich in April 2014.
- Fulham have won just their second away point in their last 12 outings in the Premier League (D2 L10).
- Newcastle have won just three of their last 17 Premier League games against promoted sides (D5 L9).
- Newcastle have won just two of their last 10 Premier League games at St. James' Park (D1 L7).
- Fulham have failed to find the back of the net in six of their last nine Premier League games.
Rafael Benitez (Newcastle): "For me, the main thing is if you cannot win, do not give the other team chances to score. We have to put into perspective where we were at the beginning and we are now playing against teams like Fulham and Wolves who have spent a lot of money during the summer."
Claudio Ranieri (Fulham): "At this moment for us, it's important to get a point, it's important to have a clean sheet because in the last matches, we have played well and from their first chance, the opponent has scored a goal. They made a lot of crosses - 30 - and they shot at goal, but our keeper never had to save anything."
Man of the match - Alfie Mawson
The Fulham defender had been open about the need for improvement before this game and he delivered personally by playing a key role in the team's long-awaited clean sheet.
After being accidentally punched by his own goalkeeper in the first half, Mawson recovered to fight off countless Newcastle attacks in the second half with a resilient display.
Fulham host Wolves in the early kick-off on Boxing Day, live on Sky Sports Premier League. Newcastle have a tough assignment later that afternoon when Benitez returns to Anfield to take on the leaders Liverpool.