Chelsea 0-0 Fulham: Dire draw piles pressure on Benitez
London: The task facing interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez became even more imposing as his side were booed off following a desperately poor goalless draw with west London rivals Fulham.
It was the second 0-0 scoreline in two games under the Spaniard, who replaced club legend Roberto Di Matteo just a week previously, leaving the Blues with just two wins from their last 10 fixtures, winless in six in the Premier League and yet to score under their new boss.
There was mutiny in the air towards the end of the game as the home fans sang "we want our Chelsea back" before loudly jeering the team off at the full-time whistle after they created virtually no opportunities in the 90 minutes.
Di Matteo`s name once again rang around Stamford Bridge in the 16th minute - recognising the shirt number which he used to wear as a Blues player - and Benitez appears to face an impossible task to win around his team`s supporters.
The former Liverpool manager made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 in his first game in charge against Manchester City on Sunday, making the strange decision to rest Juan Mata and John Obi Mikel, with Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand coming in. Fulham, for their part, made three changes from the side who lost to Stoke City, with Mahamadou Diarra, Hugo Rodallega and Damien Duff brought into the starting line-up.
Benitez avoided the boos that greeted his appearance in the home dugout against City, yet the atmosphere around Stamford Bridge was flat from the outset, as if all enthusiasm has been sucked out of the players and supporters in the last week.
Chelsea simply lacked any invention as Oscar and Eden Hazard were denied space to operate and Fernando Torres was lazy and laboured in his movement as the focal point of the attack.
The only action of note in the first period came on the half-hour mark when Blues right-back Cesar Azpilicueta squared for Torres, who turned sharply in the penalty area but struck his effort straight at Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer with his left foot.
The boos and jeers that greeted the players at the half-time whistle did nothing to inspire an improved performance after the break, with Fulham more threatening as they looked to counterattack.
In the 58th minute, a fantastic chipped pass by Giorgos Karagounis put Fulham left-back John Arne Riise through on goal but the Norwegian scuffed his shot from eight yards and Petr Cech was able to save.
Fifteen minutes from time, Riise again tested Cech with a stinging shot from 20 yards after tidy work from substitute Kerim Frei. As the game drew to a close, the visitors increasingly looked the more likely scorers as they continued to play with defensive organisation and verve of the break.
Yet for Benitez, there is a long, long way to go if he is to win around the Chelsea fans and convince them that owner Roman Abramovich made the right decision.