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Fulham 0-0 West Ham United
The controversial late sending off of West Ham United’s Tomas Soucek was the only major taking point from this instantly forgettable encounter at Craven Cottage.
Seven victories from eight in all competition – including an impressive midweek win at Villa Park – saw West Ham confidently head across the capital to face their relegation-haunted hosts.
David Moyes insisted Scott Parker and his side were better than their league position suggested: “As I’ve said, some moments in football as a manager you need bits of good fortune, “ the Scotsman explained.
“They missed a penalty in the last minute at London Stadium in the reverse fixture which would have got them a point from the game.
Sometimes on the journey, you’ve got to pick up things and when you get that bit of luck you’ve got to take it. From our point of view, it worked.
Fulham have improved greatly since that period in the season, so we go there expecting a really tough game.”
Filthy weather conditions and a scrappy, frantic opening saw little in the way of quality. Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio were a whisker away from a telling touch after Aaron Cresswell had centred.
Declan Rice drove an angled effort directly at Alphonse Areola as the East Londoners probed patiently for an opening – the busy Said Benrahma fashioning the opening. Meanwhile, Soucek was unable to direct goalwards after Jesse Lingard had picked him out arriving at the far post.
Fulham had offered very little in an attacking sense. Ademola Lookman was involved in their best moments – the Wandsworth-born winger dragging an effort wide after finding some room on the edge of the box. Soon after, the on-loan RB Leipzig man sent an angled attempt over as Fulham began to find their feet.
West Ham survived a mix-up between Craig Dawson and Fabianski, while Bobby Decordova-Reid sent a fizzing volley over the top and Ruben Loftus-Cheek missed the target as the home side returned the brighter.
But it was West Ham who almost opened the scoring – Vladimir Coufal heading firmly against the bar after Rice had centred.
Tosin Adarabioyo perhaps should have done better – unmarked and heading over from close range, while Lookman’s dead-ball attempt whistled the wrong side of an upright. Then Ivan Cavaleiro fired high over as Fulham – albeit tentatively – turned the screw.
Substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic saw his spinning attempt drift behind, while Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa drilled at Fabianski and Loftus-Cheek again wide.
Soucek was shown a straight red card after VAR offered referee Mike Dean an opportunity to oversee a flailing arm in the direction of Mitrovic – The Serbian clearly making the most of minimal contact.
West Ham United now turn their attention to the Emirates FA Cup where they will take on Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday, February 9 (7:30pm).
Fulham: Alphonse Areola, Kenny Tette, Joachim Andersen, Bobby Decordova-Reid (Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa 84’), Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tosin Adarabioyo, Ivan Cavaleiro, Mario Lemina (Josh Maja 79’), Ademola Lookman, Harrison Reed, Antonee Robinson (Aleksandar Mitrovic 79’)
Subs not used: Marek Rodak (GK), Michael Hector, Tim Ream, Joe Bryan, Josh Onomah, Ola Aina
Booked: Joachim Andersen (foul)
West Ham United: Łukasz Fabiański, Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Jarrod Bowen (Mark Noble 56’), Declan Rice (Capt), Tomas Souček, Jesse Lingard, Said Benrahma (Andriy Yarmolenko 56’), Michail Antonio (Ryan Fredericks 74’) Subs not used: David Martin (GK), Ben Johnson, Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, Manuel Lanzini, Pablo Fornals, Ademipo Odubeko
Booked: Angelo Ogbonna (foul)
Sent-off: Tomas Soucek (violent conduct)
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistants: Darren Cann and Simon Long
Fourth Official: Kevin Friend
VAR: Lee Mason
Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger