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  • Fulham 0-0 Aston Villa Highlights

    Fulham and Aston Villa wasted a string of chances as they played out a goalless draw at Craven Cottage on the opening day of the Premier League season, Saturday 13/08/2011.
    Bobby Zamora was the biggest culprit, missing a handful of opportunities, with Villa's new number one Shay Given protecting his goal with typical dexterity.

    On reflection, it was a solid start to the new campaign for both sides as they begin life under their new managers.

    Martin Jol and Alex McLeish can build on their tenures with a point apiece and a clean sheet.

    After crossing the divide from St Andrews to Villa Park, former Birmingham City gaffer McLeish set out to rid his reputation of being a long all merchant and sent out an attack-minded line-up.

    Charles N'Zogbia, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey and Darren Bent formed a four pronged attack.

    But in the opening exchanges his team struggled to adjust to their new formation and their disjointed shape left them exposed down the channels, with Fulham coming close to punishing their guests after 15 minutes.

    A negligent N'Zogbia failed to track Fulham new boy John Arne Riise charging down the left wing.

    His run was spotted by Danny Murphy, who played the galloping Norwegian through on goal with a pinpoint pass, but his new team-mate's trusty left foot let him down, as he sent his shot into the stands with only Given to beat.

    As the half progressed Villa started to find their rhythm and almost took the lead with 20 minutes on the clock.

    A lofted ball forward from Richard Dunne sailed between Aaron Hughes and a leaden footed Philippe Senderos finding Heskey.

    The big striker failed to punish the home side's poor defending and tamely volleyed into the grateful arms of Mark Schwarzer.

    Minutes later Heskey wasted another chance, heading over from an N'Zogbia cross. Villa's new signing continued to pose a threat down the right wing, picking out James Collins with a flat cross, unfortunately for the travelling fans the outcome was the same - a misguided header into the crowd.

    The visitors' Stiliyan Petrov and Fulham's Damien Duff both threatened before the end of the half with long range efforts, but it was Andy Johnson who came closest to scoring.

    The former Everton striker cut in from the left, worked an inch on Collins and fired a stinging shot at goal, which Given did well to bat away.

    Fired up after Jol's half-time teamtalk, Fulham started the second period with real impetus.

    Their constant pressure forged two chances for Zamora. The first a close range header straight at Given, the second a one-on-one following an exquisite through ball from Murphy, but yet again Villa's shot-stopper was equal to it with a sprawling save.

    He was called into action again, smothering a weak effort from Johnson. The momentum was building for the hosts, but the killer instinct was woefully missing and they were almost caught out for their prolificacy in front of goal.

    Bent scampered down the left wing and pulled the ball back to Marc Albrighton arriving at the back post, but the Villa substitute could only ripple the side netting from 15 yards out.

    As the game entered the latter stages it descended into a scrappy affair with a flurry of petulant fouls and yellow cards, as neither team showed the guile to break the deadlock.
    Ben Welch / Eurosport



    FULHAM: Schwarzer, Hughes, Hangeland, Senderos, John Arne Riise, Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Andrew Johnson, Zamora... Subs: Etheridge, Kelly, Sidwell, Baird, Kasami, Briggs, Dembele.
    ASTON VILLA: Given, Young, Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Delph, Petrov, N'Zogbia, Heskey, Bent, Agbonlahor.... Subs: Guzan, Ireland, Albrighton, Delfouneso, Makoun, Clark, Bannan.


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