Middlesbrough 0-1 Fulham: Player ratings

by Sarah on January 13, 2018

Sarah scores Slavisa Jokanovic’s men out of ten after the Whites managed to come away with all three points having pulled off the ultimate smash and grab raid at the Riverside Stadium this afternoon …

Marcus Bettinelli: It seems slightly unbelievable that the Fulham goalkeeper wasn’t called upon to make a single save given all the pressure that the Whites had to soak up. That didn’t mean that Bettinelli had a quiet afternoon. He commanded and cajoled his defence impressively – and was characteristically vocal throughout – and when his team needed him, the academy graduate came up big. He raced from his goal-line to put off Martin Braithwaite when he was let in by Ollie Norwood’s sloppy pass and then made himself big as Rudy Gestede bore down on goal just before the break. 7

Ryan Fredericks: An energetic performance from the full back and it needed to be with George Friend attempting to restrict his attacking influence by bombing on for Boro. Fredericks did get forward as much as he would normally do, largely kept occupied by Middlesbrough’s direct approach and how the home side started the game on the front foot, but he did his defensive duties impressively and was a key part of the defence that kept another important clean sheet. 6

Denis Odoi: A surprisingly pick ahead of Tomas Kalas, Odoi produced another understated display at centre back. Dealt with the threat of Rudy Gestede in the first half and, having been switched to left back for the majority of the second period, quelled the previously lively Braithwaite effectively. Repelled Boro’s direct attempts to hit balls between himself and Ream in the first half and was a confident distributor of the ball when the midfield needed a break. 7

Tim Ream: Marked his hundredth Fulham appearance with the kind of commanding performance we have come to count upon from the American. Never looked hassled even though the Whites had to soak up incessant Boro pressure in the first 25 minutes and still looked as relaxed on the ball as ever. Coped well with Gestede and then Assombalonga – only letting the substitute go for the chance that he pinged against the crossbar in stoppage time. It is this sort of determined showing that has largely consigned Michael Madl, who started last season ahead of him, to the periphery of the Fulham squad. 8

Ryan Sessegnon: Had a rough first half against the raw pace of Adama Traore in his toughest assignment in senior football. Still showed admirable strength and no little foot speed of his own to recover his position on occasions but it was no surprise that Fulham started to make more of an impression going forward once he had been moved into the left wing position. Created two openings with determined runs down the flank and almost played in Johansen with a lovely solo run as well. 7

Kevin McDonald: The stand-in skipper, usually so dependable at the base of the midfield, looked as if he was badly off his game in the first half an hour as Boro looked to blow Fulham. Struggled to assert himself on proceedings and kept on giving the ball away – although he was hardly alone in that. Much better in the second half, giving the back four some much-needed protection, and carrying the ball forward from deep. 6

Stefan Johansen: A hit and miss performance from the Norwegian. Booked for an early over-zealous tackle and struggled to find both his range of passing and touch, frequently being robbed by the Boro midfielders. Gradually recovered his composure and, at times in the second half, looked the most likely to make something happen for Fulham in the absence of Tom Cairney. 6

Ollie Norwood: Almost handed Middlesbrough the dream start with a ridiculously underhit backpass that gave Gestede a glorious chance. Was understandably cautious in possession, given how Fulham were being forced onto the back foot at times. but become more effective once Pulis threw on a couple more forwards and went even more direct. Slowed the play down more than once – but this was an afternoon for giving his team-mates a breather – and his desire to deliver a gamechanging moment saw him in the box when he was felled by Grant Leadbitter. Converted the penalty with customary coolness. 7

Sheyi Ojo: Struggled to get in the game as Fulham’s wide men fed on scraps for much of the first half. Was eager to put himself about for the cause – frequently tracking back as well as making positive forward runs. Got himself on the end of a flowing move just before the break, directing a downward diving header straight at Darren Rudolph from Ryan Sessegnon’s cross. It was a sign of how the game was going when he was replaced by Kalas seven minutes after the break. 6

Lucas Piazon: A tough return to the league starting line-up for the Brazilian, who looked a little short of a gallop against a physical side embodying their manager’s robust approach. Wanted too many touches in possession and was breezed past by Traore as the Spaniard surged away from several black shirts. He’ll be better for more game time in his legs though. Gave way for Neeskens Kebano with five minutes to play. 5

Aboubakar Kamara: A quiet afternoon for the big French striker, who was nullified throughout by Ben Gibson. Never really got a sight of goal but didn’t stop trying. Found himself out on the flanks often as Fulham fought to establish a foothold in the contest. Was replaced by Rui Fonte on the hour mark. 6

Substitutes:

Tomas Kalas (on for Sheyi Ojo, 52): Shored up a Fulham defence that, at times during a shaky first half looked as though it might gave in, with a gritty performance on his return to the Riverside. Got involved in a wrestling match with Braithwaite straight away and was incredibly fortunate not to concede a penalty after appearing to shove him over in the box. 6

Rui Fonte (on for Aboubakar Kamara, 57): Offered more finesse than Kamara as a false nine, dropping deep to give his midfielders a short ball and link the play. Covered plenty of ground in pressing the Middlesbrough defence – something Kamara struggled with today – and made a number of smart runs off the shoulder. Had no opportunities in front of goal, but put in a valuable shift for the team. 6

Neeskens Kebano (on for Lucas Piazon, 85): Came on with five minutes to go and had a central part in the game’s decisive moment. Battled to win half a yard of space inside the box well into the stoppage time and his deflected cross fell kindly for Norwood, who was felled by Leadbitter. 6

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