Here was a game that player Frank Lampard would have absolutely loved.
High energy, plenty of pockets of space across midfield and an avalanche of opportunities to shoot, as he so often did with great success, from the edge of the box.
But for manager Frank Lampard this was excruciating. He paced back and forth, arms crossed, a worried look etched on his face. Chance after chance came for Fulham – and then it went. 0-0. Fulham had been suspended at home for the first time this season.
Fulham and Everton played out a goalless draw in an end-to-end encounter at Craven Cottage
Fulham striker Aleksandr Mitrovic missed a handful of chances to seal victory for the hosts
Lampard has grievances too – none less significant than a dangerous challenge on the ankle of Idrissa Gueye in the first half that only earned Aleksandar Mitrovic a yellow card.
Up went Mitrovic’s hand immediately and looked worriedly at referee John Brookes after Gueye had spun him near the center circle and the chalk went over the Everton midfielder’s ankle.
“It’s a red card for Aleksandar Mitrovic, a strong challenge above the ankle,” Lampard said.
– It’s a challenge you see red cards for. We should get that decision. I love Mitrovic, I’m not saying there was an intention but it’s frustrating. It would change the game.’
It would have, he’s right, but this was a game dominated by Jordan Pickford and Everton’s defence, more so than VAR’s decision-making at Stockley Park.
Pickford in goal was magnificent, as were Conor Coady and James Tarkowski in front of him. All three, particularly Tarkowski and Coady, who have a chance for the England squad for Qatar, will have given Steve Holland, Gareth Southgate’s assistant who was here to watch, plenty to think about.
Fulham striker Willian (left) catches up with former Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard
No team in the league has faced more shots than Everton this season. They have trained and rode their luck sometimes too.
Having lost 16 of their last 23 away games in the Premier League, this is a building block for this defense because as good as they were, the attack didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin thought he had scored the winner midway through the second half when he raced through one-on-one to meet Alex Iwobi’s ball on the far left. He poked through Bernd Leno’s leg and then ran around to knock it in.
Everton forward Anthony Gordon (pictured) missed a good chance early in the game
Liverpool, Brentford, Brighton, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Aston Villa all failed to shut out Fulham in their opening six games at Craven Cottage. How Everton did, with Fulham mustering 23 shots on target, is a credit to the determination Lampard has instilled in this group.
“Jordan Pickford and their defenders deserve credit, they block everything but we did everything to win,” Fulham boss Marco Silva said.
“In football we have days like this. It’s the first game at home we haven’t scored, our philosophy and desire is right.
Fulham boss Marco Silva faced his former club for the first time since being sacked
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Leno 6, Robinson 7, Ream 7, Diop 6, Decordova-Reid 5.5 (Tete 76), Reed 6.5, Pereira 6 (Cairney 76), Palhinha 7.5, Kebano 7 (Wilson 67), Willian 7, Mitrovic 6.5
Subs not used: Rodák, Duffy, James, Harris, Carlos Vinícius, Adarabioyo
Booked: Mitrovic, Decordova-Reid
Manager: Marco Silva 7
Everton (4-2-3-1): Pickford 8.5, Mykolenko 6, Tarkowski 7, Coady 7, Coleman 6 (Patterson 64), Onana 6, Iwobi 6.5, Gueye 6.5 (Garner 64), Gray 6 (McNeil 75), Gordon 5.5 ( Maupay 86), Calvert-Lewin
Subs not used: Holgate, Begovic, Davies, Keane, Doucoure
Manager: Frank Lampard 7
Judge: John Brookes 6
First, Willian was the culprit, sending a free header six yards wide of Jordan Pickford’s goal. Silva couldn’t believe it on the touchline. Neither could Willian, who wore a look of total disbelief.
Then, in the space of three minutes, Pickford made three not-so-good fingertip saves to deny Willian, Mitrovic and Harrison Reed. A nod of approval came from Holland in the directors’ box.
Everton improved from Pickford’s three-minute masterclass and should have gone ahead when Demarai Gray broke down the left before curling in a six-yard cross.
Calvert-Lewin was there and unless Gordon was on the back post. Calvert-Lewin had an insignificant touch and the chance was denied. Lampard looked upset. Silva reached under his seat for his notepad. More doodles for the halftime chat.
Neeskens Kebano and Andreas Pereira had plenty of energy and verve to build attack after attack for Fulham and more chances would follow in part two of this epic show, with Willian among the star performers.
After cutting inside midway through the second half, his effort was tame, much to the frustration of him and his manager. Add the fact that Willian was upset that he was not awarded a penalty after a trip into the box from Gueye and frustration was the predominant feeling in the Fulham camp when the final whistle blew.
“We deserved more, we created many chances today,” said the Brazilian.
“At least we have a point. We should have scored at least two goals.
He’s right, they should have, but the fact they didn’t said more about Everton’s defense than Fulham’s.
Sportsmail’s Jacob Ranson provided live blog updates for the Premier League match between Fulham and Everton.
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