Beto’s late miss ensured Everton dropped back into the Premier League relegation zone after holding Fulham to a 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage.
Sean Dyche’s side, whose appeal against a 10-point penalty imposed for breaches of Premier League financial rules is being heard this week, were denied a first-half opener when Timothy Castagne produced a stunning clearance off the line to prevent an Antonee Robinson own goal.
Fulham were the better side in the second half, however, with Castagne’s header striking the crossbar before Jordan Pickford produced a sublime save to keep out Tosin Adarabioyo’s effort from Willian’s cross. Deep into stoppage time, James Tarkowski met Dwight McNeil’s corner to set up substitute Beto for a simple finish but he headed glaringly over.
With Luton thrashing Brighton at Kenilworth Road, the result means Everton drop into the relegation zone by a point while Fulham rise to 12th above Bournemouth ahead of the remaining midweek games.
Fulham: Leno (7), Castagne (8), Adarabioyo (6), Diop (7), Robinson (7), Joao Palhinha (8), Cairney (7), De Cordova-Reid (7), Andreas Pereira (7), Willian (6), Jimenez (5).
Subs: Ream (n/a), Rodrigo Muniz (6).
Everton: Pickford (8), Young (6), Godfrey (8), Tarkowski (7), Branthwaite (6), Mykolenko (7), Harrison (6), Garner (7), Danjuma (6), McNeil (6), Calvert-Lewin (6).
Subs: Patterson (n/a), Beto (6), Dobbin (n/a).
Player of the match: Timothy Castagne.
How the points were shared at the Cottage
On the eve of this trip to the capital, Dyche – who marked one year in charge at Goodison Park on Tuesday – had urged his threadbare squad to deal with the requirements of supporters who have been through the wringer in the last couple of seasons.
The Toffees’ only victory in their previous eight games was the FA Cup third-round replay against Crystal Palace, but the benefit of that was negated by their last-gasp 2-1 defeat at home to Luton in the fourth round.
- Fulham made seven changes to the team that lost 2-0 at against Newcastle in the FA Cup. Bernd Leno was back in goal with Timothy Castagne, Tosin Adarabioyo, Joao Palhinha, Tom Cairney, Willian and Raul Jimenez also returning to the starting XI.
- Ben Godfrey made his 100th Premier League appearance as Everton welcomed back Dwight McNeil from the start since their last Premier League outing – the 0-0 draw at home to Aston Villa.
- There was no Seamus Coleman or Amadou Onana in the matchday squad. Ashley Young started while Beto dropped to the bench following the FA Cup defeat by Luton.
It was something of a flat performance which resulted in boos at the final whistle – but the visitors made a bright start at Fulham with Jack Harrison curling a shot wide from Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s lay-off inside five minutes.
Calvert-Lewin was then denied by Issa Diop’s block on the penalty spot moments later from Vitalii Mykolenko’s cross.
Like Fulham, Everton’s cup exit means they now have only Premier League survival to focus on, but Dyche’s resources are being stretched to the limit with Amadou Onana’s absence with a knock a fresh problem for an already seriously-depleted midfield.
Marco Silva, who managed Everton between 2018 and 2019, watched his side threaten sporadically in the opening period with Robinson testing Pickford and Joao Palhinha heading over from Andreas Pereira’s set-piece.
Midway through the first half, Everton could not believe they had not taken the lead. Bernd Leno could only parry Arnaut Danjuma’s free-kick back to Tarkowski whose shot into the ground was flicked onto his own crossbar by Diop.
The ball struck Robinson with his arm by his side to carry it towards the goal but Castagne made a superb recovery to prevent it from crossing the line.
Three minutes before the break, Raul Jimenez had the goal at his mercy but sliced wide from point-blank range after Tarkowski inadvertently hooked Castagne’s deflected shot back into the danger zone.
Jimenez did not emerge for the second period as he was seen heading down the tunnel nursing the back of his left hamstring – but his replacement Rodrigo Muniz nearly pounced on a mistake from McNeil eight minutes after the restart only to be denied by the onrushing Pickford.
Calvert-Lewin’s header from James Garner’s corner grazed the crossbar at the far post as somehow it remained scoreless before Ben Godfrey made a crucial goal-saving tackle with Muniz ready to tap home from Bobby Decordova-Reid’s cross.
Fulham continued to probe and came closest to breaking the deadlock midway through the second period when Castagne redirected Decordova-Reid’s header from Pereira’s corner onto the bar. Everton stood firm, and when Tosin did rise above Ashley Young to head Willian’s cross towards the top corner, he found the sprawling Pickford in his way.
The stage was then set for Beto’s smash-and-grab but the Everton substitute fluffed his lines when found virtually underneath the crossbar by Tarkowski.
Need for predatory striker evident on both sides
Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds at Craven Cottage:
Fulham had beaten Everton on both previous occasions this season, with victory coming in the form of a 1-0 league win in August before a penalty shoot-out triumph in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals in December.
But Tuesday’s draw means they have now played 10 Premier League games this season without scoring, more than any other side.
The wasteful Muniz headed straight at England’s No 1 from Decordova-Reid’s cross. Then Beto served up a contender for miss of the season deep into stoppage time. It served to underline how both these sides are in need of a predatory striker.
Referee Thomas Bramall puffed his after one unnamed culprit missed the target. In total, Fulham had 25 shots to Everton’s 21. The visitors created five big chances to Fulham’s four. There were enough opportunities for both sides to win this twice over.
The concern for Fulham will be the injury sustained to Raul Jimenez while for Everton, Beto still only has one Premier League goal with Udinese receiving the first instalment of the £25.75m spent on him in July. Calvert-Lewin now has one goal in his last 19 games.
This remains an awkward moment for these two clubs after both were dumped out of the FA Cup following disappointing home defeats on Saturday. For Fulham, there was the added blow of having missed out on a trip to Wembley after losing the Carabao Cup semi-final.
Amid complaints about ticket prices, the bleak mood is shared by Tuesday’s counterparts after the initial galvanising effect of four straight wins to Everton’s 10-point deduction wore off over the festive period.
Dyche’s side have now taken only two points from their last 15 in the Premier League. With Onana missing, the sight of Abdoulaye Doucoure back in training is extremely welcome.
Fulham are back in action on Saturday when they travel to Burnley; kick-off 3pm.
Everton are also playing on Saturday when they host Tottenham; kick-off 12.30pm.