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Premier League

  • August 13, 2011
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • Craven Cottage, London
  • Referee: L. Mason
  • • Attendance: 25700

Fulham 0-0 Aston Villa: New managers make steady Premier League starts in uninspiring draw at Craven Cottage

The home side edged proceedings and had the better chances of the two, while the visitors had Shay Given to thank throughout but the game could have gone either way in the end

Clint Dempsey and Fulham kicked off the new season in an uninspiring way.

On the opening day of the 2011-12 Premier League season, Fulham controlled the match but played to a 0-0 draw against Aston Villa Saturday at Craven Cottage.

Fulham's new coach Martin Jol and Aston Villa's new boss Alex McLeish had to settle for a point apiece in their first Premier League game in charge.

John Arne Riise, Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson had great chances for the home team, but new goalkeeper Shay Given kept Aston Villa in the game throughout. Dempsey was unable to make a major impact in 90 minutes.

The first effort on goal came just after 10 minutes when debutant Riise ran onto a through ball but he thundered his shot over the bar from just inside the penalty box.

Winger Damien Duff volleyed wide on his weaker foot as Fulham continued to be amongst the chances. But it was the away side that should have opened the scoring after a defensive lapse from Philippe Senderos.

A long ball from inside his own half from Stephen Warnock was left by the Swiss defender, which allowed Emile Heskey to nip in behind him but his chip-cum-shot was easily blocked by Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

The visitors had the ball in the back of the net after 22 minutes when Darren Bent ran onto Emile Heskey’s through ball, but the England striker made his run too early and was a yard or two offside.

The best move of the half came from a move straight out of the training ground after Senderos had brought down Heskey around 40-yards out. Stephen Warnock sent a delightful cross-field free kick to Charles N’Zogbia, who was waiting patiently on the touchline. His cross was then headed over by James Collins – whose reaction suggested he should have done better.

Stilian Petrov had Schwarzer flying across his goal after he unleashed a drive that was always rising from around 25-yards out after Warnock teed him up from another well-worked free kick.

Given was called into action for the first time five minutes before the break, parrying Johnson’s shot after skillfully working his way into the box.

Bobby Zamora went close twice within the first five minutes of the second half with a shot and a header which brought the best out of Given on both occasions.

The home side’s strong start to the half continued and Villa was thankful for Richard Dunne’s last-ditch challenge on Andrew Johnson when the striker was bearing down on goal - anything other than a great tackle would have resulted in either a goal or a penalty with the possibility of a sending-off.

Given again came out on top against Zamora when one-on-one he could only shoot straight at the goalkeeper and almost immediately after that Johnson went through on goal but his weak effort fell comfortably into the Irishman’s hands.

Substitute Marc Albrighton had the Villa fans on his feet when they thought he had scored but he rifled his shot into the side netting.

The game ebbed and flowed with neither side getting themselves across the finishing line and a draw was a fair result in the end.

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