Match ends, Fulham 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Fulham 1-1 Wolves: Alexsandar Mitrovic 'wants to cry' after missing chances in draw
Fulham captain Aleksandar Mitrovic said he felt like crying after missing several chances in his side's scrappy draw with Wolves that lifted the Cottagers off the bottom of the table.
The hosts were on top in the first half at Craven Cottage but Mitrovic could not convert any of his seven attempts, while Raul Jimenez went close for the visitors with an acrobatic bicycle kick.
Wolves were more assured after the break without regularly threatening before Fulham substitute Ryan Sessegnon scuffed in a volley after Rui Patricio's weak punch on 74 minutes.
But the hosts could not hold on for a third Premier League win of the season as Ivan Cavaleiro got in down the left to slide the ball across goal, with Fulham wing-back Joe Bryan stopping the ball but then falling over - allowing Romain Saiss to tap in his first Premier League goal.
Mitrovic then got in behind from a long, clearing kick by Fulham keeper Sergio Rico on 90 minutes but his deflected, clipped effort was cleared off the line by Conor Coady.
"If I shot 100 more times the ball wouldn't go in," Mitrovic told Sky Sports. "I played a good game but didn't score and that's the most important thing for a striker.
"I'm very disappointed, angry and want to cry - but that's football. You have these days and you just need to keep going."
Wednesday's draw takes Fulham to 19th, four points from safety after Cardiff's draw with Crystal Palace, while Huddersfield drop to 20th after a 3-1 defeat by Manchester United.
The wasteful eight
Mitrovic failed to convert any of his eight chances against Wolves and has now not scored in his past six league appearances, having also had another six-game goalless streak earlier in the season.
The Serbia international became the first player in the Premier League this season to have seven attempts in the first half, but he only got two on target, both of which were too close to Patricio.
It took 25 minutes for the first effort on target by either side in a lifeless start, Mitrovic failing to get enough power on a header at the back post off Cyrus Christie's cross.
He then picked up a loose ball in the Wolves area, before turning his man and shifting it past another - but his low effort was blocked by Patricio's legs.
Mitrovic was kept quieter in the second half before missing the most crucial opening of the game - he did well to force his way on to Rico's clearance but then could not lift his effort over Ryan Bennett's outstretched leg, with Coady alert to scramble the ball away.
While he causes defences plenty of problems, Mitrovic's scoring rate of seven goals in the first half of the season is not likely to be enough to keep up a Fulham side that has conceded 43 times.
Improved Fulham still falter
Fulham have now taken six points from seven matches under Claudio Ranieri, one more than they managed in 12 games under predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic this season.
While perhaps not a seismic improvement, the Italian has made the Cottagers more organised, their defence keeping Wolves to largely speculative efforts for long periods.
The return of Sessegnon after two games out with a groin injury is also particularly welcome. His goal was a touch fortunate, deflecting off a Wolves defender and the underside of the crossbar on the way in - but he gave his side renewed vigour after replacing Andre Schurrle on 67 minutes when Wolves were on top.
However, Fulham are still prone to lapses of concentration and Joao Moutinho was given far too much time and space on the ball to turn and slide in an unmarked Cavaleiro before Bryan's error on the line.
With key matches against fellow relegation candidates Huddersfield and Burnley coming up - as well as tough games against Arsenal and Tottenham - Fulham could well rue missing out on two extra points here come the end of the campaign.
Wolves find a way
Since Wolves came up as Championship winners last season and Fulham were promoted through the play-offs, the gap between these sides has increased.
Nuno Espirito Santo's side have still only scored 20 times this season - three more than Fulham - but they look a much more accomplished team in possession and have a fine defensive record, conceding fewer than Manchester United and Arsenal so far.
With Portugal international Moutinho running play from midfield, Wolves also have threats from the bench - Cavaleiro brighter than the anonymous Adama Traore after replacing him at half-time, and fellow substitute Helder Costa putting Bryan under pressure for Saiss' equaliser.
This was far from Wolves' most fluent performance but they found a way to claim a point and will be delighted with an impressive first half to the season that gives them a fine chance of a top-10 finish in their first top-flight season since 2012.
Man of the match - Joao Moutinho (Wolves)
'A little frustrated but a draw is fair' - reaction
Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri, speaking to BBC Sport: "I am a little bit frustrated but the draw is right. Yes we missed the opportunity, but it's OK.
"It was a good performance from my players, everyone understood the problem and was working for the problem.
"When you are bottom, you have to fight, take chances, continue to fight, I am satisfied with the performance. It was only the second match we have played with this system."
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, speaking to BBC Sport: "I felt when Fulham scored it was unfair because we had so much of the ball and looked more likely to score - but this is the game.
"I am very happy with our second-half performance but in the first half we didn't quite get in the game - it was not well played because there was no space. Fulham were so well organised, they allowed us possession but were so compact, and we know how good Claudio is shaping his teams.
"After half-time, the players that came in for us gave width and we managed to play much better in the second half. I think we were closer [to winning], our attitude was more active in going for the game. Fulham did not risk, always looking for counter-attacks."
Still just the one clean sheet for Fulham - stats
- Fulham have conceded in all but one of their past 23 Premier League fixtures.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers have lost just one of their past eight Premier League games in London, winning three.
- Wolves have scored 75% of their league goals in the second half of their games this season (15 of 20), the highest proportion in the competition.
- Since his league debut in August 2016, Ryan Sessegnon has been directly involved in more league goals (including play-offs) than any other Fulham player (23 goals, 14 assists).
- At 18 years and 221 days old, Sessegnon is the third-youngest player to score in the Premier League on 26 December, after James Milner (16 years on 356 days in 2002) and Michael Owen (18 years and 12 days in 1997).
- Wolves midfielder Romain Saiss scored his first Premier League goal, becoming the 14th Moroccan to score in the competition, and the first since Sofiane Boufal for Southampton against Tottenham on 26 December last year.
Fulham host Huddersfield in the Premier League on Saturday (15:00 GMT kick-off) before travelling to London rivals Arsenal on New Year's Day (15:00).
Wolves have a league game at Tottenham at 15:00 on Saturday and host Crystal Palace on Wednesday, 2 January at 19:45.
- 22ChristieBooked at 45mins
- 5ChambersBooked at 44mins
- 24SeriSubstituted forMcDonaldat 82'minutes
- 47KamaraSubstituted forCairneyat 73'minutes
- 14SchürrleSubstituted forR Sessegnonat 67'minutes
- 3R Sessegnon
- 20Le Marchand
- 11Rui Patrício
- 28João Moutinho
- 27SaïssBooked at 44mins
- 19Castro OttoSubstituted forVinagreat 82'minutes
- 17Gibbs-WhiteSubstituted forHélder Costaat 63'minutes
- 37TraoréSubstituted forCavaleiroat 45'minutes
- 10Hélder Costa
- Andre Marriner
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Fulham 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Attempt missed. Romain Saïss (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by João Moutinho.
Attempt saved. Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Romain Saïss with a cross.
Foul by Rúben Vinagre (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Tom Cairney (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sergio Rico.
Attempt saved. Rúben Vinagre (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Hélder Costa.
Attempt missed. Hélder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Goal! Fulham 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1. Romain Saïss (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ivan Cavaleiro with a cross.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rúben Vinagre replaces Jonny.
Substitution, Fulham. Kevin McDonald replaces Jean Michael Seri.
Attempt missed. Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Romain Saïss with a cross.
Goal! Fulham 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0. Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal following a set piece situation.
Foul by Romain Saïss (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Fulham. Tom Cairney replaces Aboubakar Kamara.
Substitution, Fulham. Ryan Sessegnon replaces André Schürrle.
Attempt missed. Ryan Bennett (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.