Fulham held Portuguese outfit Nacional to a drab goalless draw in their penultimate pre-season friendly in Albufeira tonight.
This was a tight, scrappy encounter played in humid conditions that made the sort of football that Slavisa Jokanovic wants his side to play difficult to execute. Fulham probably had the better of the chances with Stephen Humphrys coming close to grabbing a late winner, but on the balance of play parity felt like the right result.
Nacional made a spritely start with Nelson Bonilla’s deflected drive nearly looping over Marcus Bettinelli in the tenth minute. The Fulham goalkeeper then made an excellent stop to deny Okacha Hamzaoui from the ensuing corner and Bonilla went even closer midway through the first half when he sprung the offside trap and shot past Bettinelli but Malone arrived in the nick of time to scramble the ball clear.
Fulham’s patient passing meant they kept the ball well but they struggled to break down a disciplined Nacional defence. Dennis Adeniran did well to release Lasse Vigen Christensen down the right and the Danish midfielder’s cutback saw Sao Bento save smartly from Luca de la Torre at his near post. The Whites had another opportunity just before the break when Matt Smith diverted Richard Stearman’s cross into the path of George Williams but the Welsh winger’s volley whistled over the bar.
Nacional nearly broke the deadline ten minutes after the interval when Brazilian winger Willyan drilled in a dangerous cross that was inexplicably stabbed wide by Hamzaoui when it seemed easier to score. Chances were at a premium with defences well on top but Humphrys almost added another goal to his impressive pre-season haul with a powerful drive that looked destined for the far corner until Bento pushed it away to safety at full stretch.
CD NACIONAL (4-4-2): Bento; Campos, Sequeira, Silva, Rodrigo; Washington, Ghazal, Roniel, Willyan; Hamzaoui, Bonilla. Subs: Framelin, Bheu, Rodrigues, Sergio, Diogo, Cadiz, Marna, Goncalves, Silva, Mauro.
FULHAM (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Kalas (Edun 45), Malone (Odoi 61), Stearman, Ream; McDonald (Aluko 76), Adeniran (Tunnicliffe 61), Christensen; G. Williams (Humphrys 61), de la Torre (Parker 76), Smith (Ayite 76). Subs (not used): Button, Joronen, R. Sessegnon, Woodrow.