Soaring Southampton have denied two goals and missed the chance to finish third on frustrating Boxing Day as Fulham scores a goalless draw
- Southampton traveled to Craven Cottage on Boxing Day to face Fulham
- BothShane Long and then Theo Walcott had ruled out offside goals
- Southampton are three games without a win, Fulham still in the bottom three
The booty wasn’t the only thing shared at Craven Cottage. So was the frustration, but also the hope on both sides.
For Southampton they were denied the chance of third place and they had the next mistakes, including two offside goals, where manager Ralph Hasenhuttl celebrated briefly on the pitch.
But on the plus side, he got the chance to look at some of what he had in reserve since four key players were missing and was pleased with what he saw.
Southampton were frustrated by Fulham in a 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage on Boxing Day
Both Shane Long (second from left) and Theo Walcott ruled out offside goals on Saturday
Ralph Hasenhuttl celebrated twice, but only had one point and now three games without a win
MATCHING FACTS AND PLAYER REVIEWS
Fulham (3-4-3): Areola 7; Aina 8, Andersen 7.5, Adarabioyo 7; Decordova-Reid 6 (Mitrovic 83,6), Reed 6, Anguissa 7, Robinson 7; Loftus-Cheek 6.5, Cavaleiro 6.5, Lookman 7.5 (Kebano 90, 5).
Unused subs: Rodak, Hector, Odoi, Cairney, Ream, Bryan, Kamara
Booked: Reid, Anguissa
Goal scorers: None
Manager: Stuart Gray 7
Southampton (4-4-2): McCarthy 6.5; Walker-Peters 7.5, Bednarek 7, Stephens 7, Bertrand 7; Armstrong 6 (Djenepo 90,6), Ward-Prowse 7, Diallo 6, Walcott 6.5; Adams 6.5, Long 5.5 (N’Lundulu 90,6).
Unused subs: Forster, Obafemi, Valery, Smallbone, Salisu, Tella, Vokins
Goal scorers: None
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl 7
Referee: Darren England 6
Man of the game: Aina
There was a missed opportunity for Fulham and their isolating manager Scott Parker to take a significant step to get out of the bottom three.
However, there was also another demonstration of their newfound resilience when they scored a fourth straight draw, further suggesting that this time around they will try much better to keep up to date than they did during their previous Premier League campaign.
Both teams therefore had a reason to be merry at Christmas, even if they missed the perfect gift of three points.
Hasenhuttl said: “It’s not that easy to play here. You have seen it in the past. Liverpool almost lost here. If Liverpool draw, I think we can leave with a point.
“We were a little unlucky, but I can live with one point. I don’t come here and think, “We’re Southampton and we win easily here.”
Stuart Gray, the former Southampton manager and half of the Fulham couple who represent Parker alongside manager Matt Wells, said: “We are disappointed. You can tell by their reaction that they are glad they got the point.
“But my glass is always half full and four games unbeaten. Compared to the start of the season, we’re going in the right direction.”
Parker was absent because a member of his household contracted coronavirus after two negative tests.
Fulham is hoping he can get back to the group the Monday before the trip to Tottenham on Wednesday, provided he delivers another negative result when retested on Sunday.
Parker spoke to Fulham’s players on the computer before the game and at halftime while talking on the bench during the game.
He would have been happy to see and hear that the game plan he was working on during the week to counter Southampton’s savage pressures and create problems of his own was working early on.
Walcott’s goal was disqualified from VAR, preventing him from scoring a second goal in three
Fulham’s Harrison Reed lies behind the wall formed by his teammates on the pitch to stop a free kick
Few teams can match this element of Southampton’s game, but Fulham have done it. Ademola Lookman might have rewarded them early on, and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa should have, but could only have seized the chance he got when he kicked the ball against his standing foot.
Southampton had to do without suspended Oriol Romeu, defender Jannik Vestegaard, who will be out for a month with a knee injury, and striker Danny Ings – all key members of his team’s spine – and winger Nathan Redmond.
And it showed. They lacked the usual cohesion. It was only in the 27th minute that they threatened Fulham’s goal, although they too had almost a big moment.
Fulham had more shots than the visitors but didn’t take their chances in West London
Fulham made the mistake of taking a free kick right outside the box in the area increasingly known as James Ward-Prowse.
He bent a trademarked free kick over the wall that stayed outside thanks to a combination of Alphonse Areola’s outstretched right hand and his post.
The spin of the ball then fooled Che Adams as he pulled in to convert the rebound.
After the break, Ivan Cavaleiro headed Antonee Robinson’s cross after finding himself in a gaping hole in the visitors’ defense before Jan Bednarek’s block against Lookman’s attempt spared Southampton.
And it was the visitors who shaded the second half. After a VAR check, they were denied a penalty when Ryan Bertrand’s flank hit Ola Aina in the hand.
Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a threat to the newly promoted team
Then came the two moments when Hasenhuttl sprinted onto the field and celebrated before he had to retreat to his shelter, disappointed.
First, Shane Long shot past Areola for Ings, only to see his efforts wear off as he was only deeper than Joachim Andersen as he ran to Bertrand’s ball.
Then Theo Walcott brilliantly transformed Adam’s cross just for a VAR check from Jon Moss to see that the Southampton strike was also wiped out.
The Cottagers’ coach Matt Wells took responsibility for self-isolation from Scott Parker