LONDON (REUTERS) - Fulham secured their first clean sheet of the season with some dogged defending in a 0-0 draw with Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday (Dec 22).
The hosts, looking for a second successive win, were unable to find a way past a Fulham side who remain bottom of the standings but have stopped shipping goals at the rate they did before coach Claudio Ranieri succeeded Slavisa Jokanovic.
That was almost undone after 20 minutes at St James' Park as a header from Jamaal Lascelles took a deflection off Fulham striker and ex-Newcastle man Aleksandar Mitrovic and was going in before being hooked off the line.
Newcastle had a penalty appeal turned down before halftime with a Matt Ritchie shot appearing to hit the hand of defender Calum Chambers, but referee Martin Atkinson was unconvinced.
Rafa Benitez's side continued to pump balls into the area in the second half, looking to find the head of striker Salomon Rondon, but the Venezuelan could not carve out a clear-cut chance.
Newcastle had another appeal for a penalty late on when Kenedy felt he was pulled by Fulham's Joe Bryan in the box. However, again, the hosts were denied a spot kick as the match finished in a stalemate leaving them 15th in the standings.
They were also lucky not to concede in stoppage time when Mitrovic's shot was blocked.
"During the game I was not happy with some situations and decisions. The worst thing is that, in a game we could win, where we were pushing and had control, we could have lost it in the last counter-attack," Benitez said.
"Sometimes it can be tense at home, when they say you have to win the game, but Fulham spent a lot of money in the summer. They are bottom but have a good team. They are organised, they had five at the back and were dangerous on the counter-attack."
Ranieri was a happier man as Fulham showed signs that they could start to climb out of trouble.
"It is very important for us. (In the) First half maybe we created more play and had possession well, but they had a very big chance," the Italian said.
"Second half we lost control and they were dangerous, but we had four or five chances on the counter-attack, so at the end I'm happy because every point we achieve is good."