Norwich City held Fulham to a goalless draw in a scrappy Premier League match at Carrow Road.
Keen to avoid a repeat of the 5-0 opening day thrashing at Craven Cottage, the Canaries largely snuffed out Fulham’s attacking threat, despite the visitors dominating possession particularly in the second half.
The latter stages saw Norwich push for a winner, with new signing Kei Kamara heading over from a Javier Garrido free-kick and a last-minute scramble after a corner ending as Kamara and Mark Schwarzer collided.
But Fulham, having been marginally the better side, were able to hold on for a point that keeps them above Norwich on goal difference in lower mid-table.
Despite both sides trying to play a passing game, the first half was a dour affair as a decent final ball proved hard to come by.
On one occasion a killer pass was picked out, but Luciano Becchio – handed his first Premier League start after Grant Holt withdrew injured – fired too close to Schwarzer after an excellent low ball from Garrido landed for the Argentine 10 yards out.
Fulham’s only chance of note saw Michael Turner block Damien Duff’s half-volley after a good cross by the returning Dimitar Berbatov, with their best work coming at the other end from Philippe Senderos and Brede Hangeland, who snuffed out Becchio’s aerial threat as he was unable to convert a number of searching crosses.
But the half was bereft of opportunity, ending goalless and with little to cheer about.
The second period started promisingly, as Hugo Rodallega looked quizzically at the linesman after his shot hit the midriff of Turner, although it appeared to hit the Norwich defender’s chest.
Indeed, Fulham seemed to have been boosted at the break as Steve Sidwell forced a diving save from Mark Bunn after a shimmy and a shot from the former Reading, Chelsea and Aston Villa midfielder.
It was a sustained spell of pressure for the visitors, broken up by the odd counter-attack but largely concentrated in the Norwich half.
Sebastian Bassong blocked a Bryan Ruiz thunderbolt with his neck, requiring treatment for that painful intervention, and the break in play seemed to help the hosts as they regained some territory, winning a succession of corners and free-kicks that Fulham defended capably.
Martin Jol responded by sending on Urby Emanuelson, who immediately showed his class with a fine turn to launch a slick passing move that saw Ruiz fire over.
The match was finally opening up as attacks and counters were traded down the pitch, although Fulham still had more of the ball, thanks in part to Ruiz dropping a touch deeper so as to increase the touches in midfield.
Norwich were the more dangerous side in the closing stages, as debutant Kamara impressed from the bench, the Sierra Leone striker showing good pace and physical presence at both ends of the pitch, but there was no late breakthrough as a late series of Fulham corners yielded little of note.
The result sees both teams move on to 29 points, with Fulham up to 12th on goal difference after Sunderland’s loss to Arsenal.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Brede Hanegland (Fulham) – The big Norwegian’s return to the Fulham line-up after injury was most welcome as he won every header and brought calm to the Whites defence.
NORWICH: Bunn 6, Martin 6, Bassong 7, Turner 7, Garrido 6, Johnson 6, Tettey 7, Snodgrass 7, Bennett 7, Hoolahan 6, Becchio 6; Subs: Jackson 6, Kamara 7
FULHAM: Schwarzer 7, Manolev 6, Senderos 7, Hangeland 7, Riise 6, Duff 6, Frimpong 6, Sidwell 7, Ruiz 7, Berbatov 6, Rodallega 7; Subs: Emanuelson 6, Dejagah N/A, Petric 6
- Sports & Recreation
- Javier Garrido