Clint Dempsey missed a 93rd-minute penalty as Fulham passed up a chance to earn a much-coveted win over London rivals Chelsea on Monday.
Mark Hughes’ side was awarded the spot kick after a clumsy challenge by the otherwise-excellent David Luiz on Dempsey, but the American was thwarted by Petr Cech in the dying seconds and the game finished 0-0.
Fulham’s best chance of a well-fought but technically limited first half came after just six minutes when former Chelsea player Damien Duff linked well with Andrew Johnson, resulting in a shot at goal for the former Everton striker that was well saved by Cech.
In reply, Frank Lampard went close with volley in the box with 28 minutes on the clock and Branislav Ivanovic miscued a cross from the right flank that Mark Schwarzer had to punch over the bar five minutes later.
In truth, the opening half was more about chances missed rather than taken.
Fernando Torres – chosen ahead of the benched Didier Drogba – cut a forlorn figure in the Chelsea attack and missed two golden opportunities to get his first goal for his new club in front of his former manager Roy Hodgson, who was in the Craven Cottage crowd.
David Luiz, however, was showing the travelling fans what sort of defender you got for 23 million pounds.
Only his assured play and towering presence kept the busy Mousa Dembele and Duff from scoring.
One of Chelsea’s misfiring strikers was replaced on 63 minutes by Salomon Kalou, but it was Nicolas Anelka and not the 50-million-pound man.
But, the Spanish striker was withdrawn just seven minutes later for the man whose place he had taken.
Drogba was injected into the game as Carlo Ancelotti tried desperately to find a goal, but Chelsea were fortunate to escape with a point when Dempsey – handed the responsibility with Danny Murphy substituted off – had his penalty saved by Cech and bicycle-kicked the follow up wide.