By 90Min
December 26, 2018

Fulham moved off the bottom of the Premier League with a point against Wolves, but they were denied a crucial win by Romain Saiss' soft equaliser.

The home side started brightly but looked typically vulnerable at the back, and Wolves should have had a penalty when the ball hit the arm of Denis Odoi from a corner. The lively Raul Jimenez also hooked an acrobatic effort over the bar.

Aleksandar Mitrovic was Fulham's best player and went close on a number of occasions. He would have scored the opening goal if Cyrus Christie had passed to him when he got in behind the defence, but the Irish international selfishly chose to shoot instead and missed the target.

Mitrovic also did brilliantly to work an opening for himself by beating Conor Coady in the area, but he should have done better with the final effort - though it was a fine save from Rui Patricio.

Wolves dominated possession in the second half without creating much, and they were made to pay when Fulham broke the deadlock with 16 minutes to go. Substitute Ryan Sessegnon's shot crossed the line after Wolves failed to clear Alfie Mawson's cross.

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Fulham sat deep and the defensive frailties which have haunted them this season returned with a vengeance. Ivan Cavaleiro's low cross across the face of goal wasn't dealt with by Sergio Rico or Joe Bryan, and Saiss was there to score his first goal of the season.

Wolves were now in the ascendancy but they nearly left the door open at the back and Mitrovic came within inches of scoring the winner with a last minute effort which was cleared off the line by Conor Coady to ensure the spoils would be shared.


FULHAM

Key Talking Points

Claudio Ranieri's main objective when he was brought in as Fulham's new manager was to tighten them up defensively and he seems to be making some progress on that score, following up a clean sheet at Newcastle with another resilient defensive performance on home turf.


The Italian must take some measure of blame for his tactics in this match though. Fulham defended admirably until they took the lead, at which point they sat back and came under constant pressure before Saiss' equaliser, and could even have lost the game late on.

Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Scoring goals continues to be a problem for the Cottagers and for long periods it looked as if that would once again be their Achilles heel. Both Andre Schurrle and Mitrovic looked lively but neither was able to produce the breakthrough.


It was Sessegnon who made the difference, finding himself in the right place at the right time to break the ice. He has failed to take his Championship form into the Premier League so far this season, but maybe this can be a turning point for the talented young Englishman.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Rico (5), Odoi (5), Mawson (6), Ream (6), Christie (6), Chambers (6), Seri (6), Bryan (6), Kamara (6), Schurrle (7), Mitrovic (7*)

Substitutes: Sessegnon (7), Cairney (6), McDonald (N/A)

STAR MAN - Aleksandar Mitrovic

If Fulham are to stay up this season then it will depend on the goals of Mitrovic. He was a constant nuisance for Wolves, giving Coady a difficult afternoon, and got in all the right positions - he just couldn't get the all-important winner.

WORST PLAYER - Denis Odoi

Lucky not to concede a penalty in the first half, Odoi was also culpable for Wolves' goal as he failed to close down Ivan Cavaleiro's cross. He simply isn't cut out for the Premier League.

WOLVES


Key Talking Points


We know Wolves are capable of playing some excellent football, but they didn't really show their best at Craven Cottage as they once again flattered to deceive against another team from the lower reaches of the Premier League.

Defeats to Huddersfield and Cardiff last month, followed by this result, shows that Wolves often struggle to break down teams who are scrapping for their lives at the bottom of the league. And yet they've had some excellent results against teams from the top six.

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville theorised that Wolves' players perform better against the big teams because they believe they should be playing for the big teams. Whatever the reason, Nuno Espirito Santo definitely has some work to do on motivating his players for these sorts of games.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Patricio (6), Bennett (5), Coady (5), Boly (6), Doherty (6), Moutinho (7), Saiss (7), Jonny (6), Traore (5), Gibbs-White (6), Jimenez (7*)

Substitutes: Cavaleiro (7), Helder Costa (6), Vinagre (N/A)


STAR MAN - Raul Jimenez

Wolves' most lively attacking player did well with what little service he received. Came close to scoring a contender for the goal of the season with an acrobatic effort in the first half and later stung the palms of Sergio Rico with a well-struck shot.

WORST PLAYER - Adama Traore


Wolves' transfer business has generally been very savvy since Nuno Espirito Santo came in, but the £18m fee they paid for Adama Traore looks more and more like a waste of money with every passing game. What does he offer apart from pace?

Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Looking Ahead

Both teams are back in action on Saturday. Wolves face a difficult trip to Tottenham, while Fulham have a must-win home game against fellow strugglers Huddersfield.

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