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Football | Barclays Premier League

Fulham, Villa play to a stalemate



Fulham and Aston Villa failed to give their new managers a winning start in the Premier League on Saturday as they fought out a relatively tame 0-0 draw.

Fulham gave manager Martin Jol - who replaced Mark Hughes when he resigned at the end of last season - some cause for optimism with their second-half display while Villa had their moments in the first-half which will give Alex McLeish, who controversially moved from relegated Birmingham to city rivals Villa, something to work on.

Aston Villa dominated the opening 45 minutes but failed to convert any of their chances.

Former England striker Emile Heskey forced a good save out of Mark Schwarzer from a tight angle early on, and then the former Leicester star thought he had created Darren Bent's opener but it was ruled out for offside.

Villa's Welsh international defender James Collins wasted their best chance, however, as he rose unmarked to meet Charles N'Zogbia's cross but sent his header over the bar. The second-half was a total contrast as Villa's early dominance was countered by a much more ambitious and vibrant Fulham outfit.

Indeed, Villa had Rpeublic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given to thank for keeping them in the game as he made a series of top class saves to start paying back immediately the reported £3.5million he cost from Manchester City.

England striker Bobby Zamora - who was playing despite a broken hand -saw his blistering effort in the opening seconds of the second-half saved by the Irishman.

Zamora then went close with a header but Given again saved, while former England striker Andy Johnson also had a chance but he fired wide. Given then spread himself and blocked a Zamora effort with his legs, after the striker had run on to a fine ball over the top by Danny Murphy.

Villa looked rattled but they releived some of the pressure when Heskey and Bent created an opening for Villa's promising young English winger Marc Albrighton, but his shot went the wrong side of the far post.

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