Crystal Palace 0-0 Fulham: Both sides struggle for cutting edge

Crystal Palace 0-0 Fulham: Stalemate at Selhurst Park as both sides struggle for any kind of cutting edge on Roy Hodgson’s return to the dugout

  • Roy Hodgson returned to the dugout after recovering from an illness this week
  • Fulham’s Willian had the best chance of the match but failed to capitalise 
  • Crystal Palace move up to eighth while the visitors go behind them in ninth 

A recovered Roy Hodgson returned to the Crystal Palace dugout today but will have spent much of his Saturday afternoon wondering why he bothered.

Hodgson, 76, missed last week’s defeat at Aston Villa with illness, and even had to listen to the game on the radio after failing to work a web link to watch it sent by the club. 

He was back on the touchline to see his side play out a stalemate with his former side Fulham, in a match were entertainment was frankly hard to come by. Marco Silva’s visitors had the clearest chance to win the game, late on through Willian, but the Brazilian couldn’t capitalise.

Palace don’t make a habit of losing home games, even when they’re not at their best. They have tasted defeat in the league at Selhurst Park only twice since January – and those losses were to Arsenal and Manchester City. 

They didn’t add to that tally here, although they rarely looked like adding three points either. Fittingly, two teams who started the day level on points in the safe confines of the Premier League’s mid-table couldn’t be separated.

Ahead of kick-off, Hodgson was greeted with reverence usually reserved for a foreign dignitary by Fulham boss Marco Silva and his assistant Luis Boa Morte,whose playing career at Craven Cottage ended shortly before Hodgson took over as manager in 2007.


CRYSTAL PALACE (4-2-3-1): Johnstone 7.5; Ward 6.5, Andersen 7, Guehi 7, Mitchell 6.5; Hughes 7, Doucoure 6.5; Ayew 6, Schlupp 6 (Mateta 70, 6), Eze 6.5; Edouard 6.5 (Rak-Sakyi 90).

Booked: Ayew, Mitchell, Doucoure.

Subs not used: Henderson, Matthews, Holding, Clyne, Richards, Riedewald, Ebiowei.

Manager: Roy Hodgson 6.5.

FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Leno 7; CASTAGNE 8, Diop 7, Ream 6, Robinson 7; Reed 7, Palhinha 7; Decordova-Reid 6 (Wilson 79), Pereira 7 (Iwobi 75, 6), Willian 6.5; Jimenez 6.5 (Vinicius 79).

Booked: Palhinha, Ream.

Subs not used: Rodak, Bassey, Ballo-Toure, Muniz, Francois, Cairney.

Manager: Marco Silva 7.

Referee: Paul Tierney 6. Attendance: Not provided.

 Hodgson spent three very happy years at the club and was warmly welcomed by all sections of Selhurst Park as he took his place on the touchline.

Fulham had the better of a quiet first half for both teams. They were first to get a shot away, in the fourth minute, when Andreas Pereira forced Sam Johnstone into action. 

Marco Silva’s side pressed high up the pitch and snapped into tackles, while looking vaguely threatening on the counter. Willian was next to test Johnstone, though again it was a routine save.

After half an hour, Palace were yet to threaten at all. A few flashes of skill from Eberechi Eze, on his 100th appearance for the club, were all the home fans had to cheer. Instead they focused their efforts on jeering referee Paul Tierney, who was quick to dish out yellow cards in a niggly first period.

It took 32 minutes for Palace’s first shot on target, and when it came it was an Eze free-kick straight at Bernd Leno. Three minutes later, Fulham had their best chance of the half when Pereira’s searching ball found Raul Jimenez in space in the box. Jimenez took the ball in his stride well and got a powerful shot away, but Johnstone parried it to safety.

The most dramatic moment of the game’s opening act came when Joachim Andersen knocked into Pereira off the ball and gave him a pat on the back on the way past. Pereira, admirably eager to breathe some life into proceedings, acted as if he’d been shot in his back, keeling over and clutching it in a manner that would have made the 76-year-old Hodgson blush.

Palace did at least end the half slightly brighter than they started it. In the 42nd minute, Eze manoeuvred himself some space around the edge of the Fulham box and curled just wide of the post.

The game picked up where it left off after the break, which is not a compliment. Palace had a half-hearted appeal for a penalty in the 57th minute when Eze felt he was manhandled by Harrison Reed but VAR Stuart Attwell did not take long to dismiss those claims.

Eight minutes later, Fulham looked well placed to counter when Bobby Decordova-Reid won possession in the final third and played in Jimenez down the right, but his ball across goal didn’t find Pereira.

Hodgson sent on striker Jean-Philippe Mateta for Jeffrey Schlupp to add some attacking impetus but the substitute had little effect.

Fulham came closest to providing a winner. Timothy Castagne, lively all day, raced up the right flank in the 83rd minute and passed inside to Reed, who in turn found Willian – unmarked and with most of the goal to aim at. But the Brazilian instead fired straight at Johnstone, and that just about summed the afternoon up.


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