Tottenham missed the chance to go third in the table but were happy enough to leave Craven Cottage with a point, and a clean sheet.
Confident Gomes thwarts Fulham
Tottenham missed the chance to go third in the table but were happy enough to leave Craven Cottage with a point, and a clean sheet, after goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes showed how much he has improved over the past year. Gomes made four stunning saves to keep out a Fulham side high on confidence after their 3-0 trouncing of Manchester United last week, and although Roy Hodgson's men had the better chances, they could find no way past the brilliant Brazilian.
Danny Murphy, Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora (twice) were denied by superb saves from a man who looked to be on his way out of the club when Harry Redknapp became manager just over 13 months ago. Gomes was signed from PSV Eindhoven for a £10million (Dh58.6m) fee but poor results under previous manager Juande Ramos had shattered his confidence and when he let in a soft goal in the corresponding 2-1 defeat at Fulham last season just a few weeks after Redknapp took over, he was at all-time low.
"Gomes was lacking in confidence when I arrived at the club but he has improved dramatically throughout 2009 and is looking like the keeper people were calling the best in the world when he was playing in Holland," said the Spurs manager. Hodgson agreed. "Gomes was a lot busier than Schwarzer and made several very good saves," he said. "I thought we deserved to win, but he made three or four very good saves and we scuffed some of our shots when we had chances. But overall I was pleased with the performance.
"Perhaps we were unlucky not to win but it was a good game between two good teams." Fulham were better from the start and Zoltan Gera could have scored one of the season's cheekiest goals had his backheel from John Pantsil's cross not gone straight into the arms of Gomes in the eighth minute. Moments later, the Brazilian pulled off his first great stop of the day, tipping a vicious volley from Murphy over the bar.
Dempsey then shot wide when he had a clear sight of goal but went closer in the 33rd minute with a dipping free-kick that glanced off the top of the bar. Spurs struggled to find any rhythm, with Aaron Lennon quiet and Jermain Defoe surprisingly dropped in favour of Robbie Keane, who failed to impose himself on the game before being replaced by the England striker with 20 minutes remaining. Peter Crouch did get the ball in the Fulham net in the 18th minute, but referee Steve Bennett had already stopped play for a free-kick to Spurs, but they troubled Schwarzer little until the 81st minute.
The Australian keeper dived to block Crouch's dipping 20-yard shot, and when Jermaine Jenas tried to force home the loose ball, Schwarzer was quick to react to save again with his legs. But it had all been about Gomes in the previous few minutes, when the Brazilian made three great saves in a six-minute spell. He pushed away headers from Zamora, the former Spurs striker, in the 63rd and 69th minutes, and between those two efforts made a full-length dive to tip away Dempsey's long shot after a flowing Fulham move.
Even in the final stages it was Fulham who looked the more likely to score, with Duff's curling cross just evading Dempsey at the far past. But neither manager was too upset with a draw. "We deserved to win but I thought it was a good game for the neutral," said Hodgson. "I am not unhappy with a point from Fulham," said Redknapp. "Fulham were dangerous when they got it forward to Zamora early and Gomes made a couple of good saves.
"This is a tough place to come as United discovered last week." Man of the match: Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham) @Email:email@example.com